Introduction, Haunted by Vertigo

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Book Chapter

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In a New York Times article in 1972 Richard Schickel persuasively argued that “We’re living in a Hitchcock world, all right”, and it is interesting to note that he made his case without even once mentioning Vertigo. (Not surprisingly, Shadow of a Doubt, Psycho, and The Birds loom particularly large in his discussion.) Although we should be careful not to try to choose one Hitchcock film alone as embodying that world in its entirety, there is something to be said for closely examining the extent to which we (not all of us certainly, but many of us) live in a Vertigo world, spellbound by a masterful film that accurately and memorably portrays some of the defining elements of modern life: romantic exhilaration and anxiety, the attractiveness and elusiveness of love, and the interpenetration of life and death in our psyche and our culture. One of the main purposes of assembling the present volume is to offer a variety of approaches to what might be called the long moment of Vertigo, to adapt the title of David Thomson’s book about Psycho: its duration, which includes what came before it, what happens as it plays, and what comes after it.


Introduction to Haunted by Vertigo: Hitchcock's Masterpiece Then and Now.