Brandeis University, Philosophy Department
Spring 2010
Brandeis University Web Stite

Philosophy 113B


Professor Andreas Teuber
Andreas Teuber


"What Is This Thing Called Film?"

"We've become a race of Peeping Toms
What people ought to do is get outside
their own houses and look in for a change"
- Stella, Rear Window

"You gentlemen aren't really trying
to kill my son, are you?"
- Clara (Roger's mother), North By Northwest

"I made a mistake. I fell in love.
That wasn't part of the plan."
Judy, Vertigo

Michelangelo Antonioni's BLOW UP (1966) might be seen as Antonioni's commentary on the limits of photography, on what it can and cannot do, on what's peculiar or special to the medium.

And Alfred Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW (1954) might be viewed as a metaphor for cinema itself.

Jeffries played by Jimmy Stewart can be viewed as someone who occupies the position of a movie-goer and the events that unfold in the apartment block opposite as a movie projected for his visual pleasure on a screen.

Or Jeffries can be seen as a film-maker, as someone who occupies the role of its director (Jefferies as auteur).

He even might be seen to occupy the camera's position: what he sees, he sees from its peculiar angle of vision, his "take" on what goes on across the courtyard is camera-like, his view, its view, his seeing the world that unfolds in the apartment block opposite, he sees with a camera's eye.

So, too, NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) might be viewed as a meditation on the role of the director in film.

And perhaps, too, what it might be like to be cast in a film, in particular, in a Hitchcock film.

And insofar as Blow Up, Rear Window and North By Northwest can be seen as meditations on the nature of film, they can be said to be "thinking" about film, reflecting on its medium, on what film can and cannot do, on film's limitations and possibilities.

So, too, to the extent that Blow Up, Rear Window and North By Northwest can be viewed as "art exploring its own medium" and hence as "self-reflexive," they can be viewed as "meta-cinematic commentary."

With these preliminaries in mind, what does Hitchcock's VERTIGO (1958) to disclose, reveal, have to say, "think" about the nature of film?

Good Luck!



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Last Modified: 03/26/10
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