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Screening and disclosing fantasy: rear projection in Hitchcock


Bronfen, Elisabeth (2015). Screening and disclosing fantasy: rear projection in Hitchcock. Screen, 56(1):1-24.

Abstract

Taking Hitchcock's consistent use of rear projection as its subject, the essay explores the manner in which this device serves to re-establish the contract between Hitchcock and his audience. I argue that rear projection allows him to produce a distance to the very obsessions the audience is also drawn into by virtue of the hallucinatory power his camerawork unfolds on the screen. We are meant to empathize with a character's fantasies, even while the rear projection exposes the technique deployed to bring about this effect. While Hitchcock's double-voiced contract with the audience is particularly explicit in his cameo appearances, it is also part of the overall stylistic arsenal through which he displays his central concern with artifice as well as external and internal staging, so as to distinguish between characters caught in a theatricalized world and those caught in internal projections. At issue in all cases is the way this cinematic device shapes our response to the world viewed on screen, disrupting the safety of our voyeurism in order to make us aware of our complicity in the obsessions we are also called upon to vicariously enjoy. Finally, given the oblique reference to both World War II and the Cold War in the films under discussion, the essay claims that in Hitchcock rear projection serves both an aesthetic and a political strategy.

Taking Hitchcock's consistent use of rear projection as its subject, the essay explores the manner in which this device serves to re-establish the contract between Hitchcock and his audience. I argue that rear projection allows him to produce a distance to the very obsessions the audience is also drawn into by virtue of the hallucinatory power his camerawork unfolds on the screen. We are meant to empathize with a character's fantasies, even while the rear projection exposes the technique deployed to bring about this effect. While Hitchcock's double-voiced contract with the audience is particularly explicit in his cameo appearances, it is also part of the overall stylistic arsenal through which he displays his central concern with artifice as well as external and internal staging, so as to distinguish between characters caught in a theatricalized world and those caught in internal projections. At issue in all cases is the way this cinematic device shapes our response to the world viewed on screen, disrupting the safety of our voyeurism in order to make us aware of our complicity in the obsessions we are also called upon to vicariously enjoy. Finally, given the oblique reference to both World War II and the Cold War in the films under discussion, the essay claims that in Hitchcock rear projection serves both an aesthetic and a political strategy.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Language:English
Date:2015
Deposited On:19 Mar 2015 10:26
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:11
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0036-9543
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/screen/hjv004
Official URL:http://screen.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/hjv004? ijkey=XWxQPDSz1C1rz8z&keytype=ref
Related URLs:http://screen.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/hjv004? ijkey=XWxQPDSz1C1rz8z&keytype=ref

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