Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Jimmy Stewart is the Doctor

In the Hitchcock class today we saw Vertigo. I've seen it a few times before, but not within the last ten years and so my memory of it was limited to fragments of a few scenes. It's a fantastic movie - seeing it again puts it among my favourite movies. All this isn't to say I fully understand it, nor its connections to the film we saw last week, Rear Window. Both of them feature Jimmy Stewart as an initially hardheaded worldly guy moving towards mental breakage, with complex identity issues, demands to shift the identity of the lead woman, and murder. Discussions of each revealed a lot more, but with the points that I and some others brought up in class discussion, I got the feeling that there's something more to it that's just a bit beyond my grasp right now -- I should probably rewatch both movies to see if I can figure it out. In any case, I am almost certain that the two films are meant to be viewed as a pair, or perhaps as part of a sequence.

Looking through the book for the class, I see that Hitchcock explicitly considers and then rejects an aesthetic consideration I put forth some time ago - that films should reflect reality and have characters as complex as real people rather than good-evil dualities. For Hitchcock, reality and even the characters are primarily tools to manipulate the audience - to slowly build tension over the film and then release it at the end. He compares his films to short stories, saying there's usually no time for films to be anything but a short story with a single story/emotional arc. There's something more artistic to his perspective than mine. I'm concerned that with these stories filling the imaginations of the public, it makes it hard for them to break away from dualism towards a more careful understanding of the nature of things. He's primarily interested in creating deeply entertaining films. There could be beauty in becoming very good at either caretaking society or entertaining it.

The title is primarily a reference to a brief scene in Vertigo where his face is moving through an animated(!) sequence that resembles the opening of Dr Who episodes between the third and the sixth doctors. Rochelle and I joked a bit about Jimmy Stewart as one of the doctors -- it might not take too much effort to take a video of that sequence, change the music, and add the TARDIS to actually make it convincing. I'll save that idea for if I get really bored.


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