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The difference between crows and blackbirds: Alfred Hitchcock and the treason of images.

Alfred Hitchcock typically resisted literary comparisons with his films despite the fact that by far the majority of his films were adapted from literary sources. The source material, however, was merely the figurative base metal that Hitchcock-the-alchemist transmuted into the "gold" of what he called "pure cinema." Even so, Paula Marantz Cohen notes an intriguing parallel between Hitchcock's experiments with "pure cinema" in his later films and Henry James's very literary experiments with modernism in his later novels:

   James's late novels, despite their
   apparent focus on character, are no
   longer character studies; they are
   exercises in the indeterminacy of language.
   Likewise, Hitchcock's last
   films, though they still use the skeleton
   of a suspense plot, are no longer
   films of suspenseful action but exercises
   in the permutating design of
   dynamic images, what some critics
   have called "pure cinema." ... By replacing
   words with dynamic images,
   film began to retrieve the concept of
   the real that had eroded in late James
   and in modernist writing in general.
   (25, emphasis added)

Cohen's description of Hitchcock's films as "exercises in the indeterminacy of language" is intriguing because, not only does it place him within a firmly modernist context through comparison with James, but it also suggests a particularly modernist theme running throughout Hitchcock's work as a filmmaker: namely, a loss of faith in the stability and authority of the linguistic sign.

In the late 1920s, as Hitchcock was coming into his own as filmmaker at the end of the silent era, another modernist, Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte, painted an ordinary pipe with a caption painted right on the canvas declaring that this, in fact, was not a pipe (Ceci n'est pas une pipe). He called the painting La Trahison des Images (The Treason of Images--see Fig. 1) suggesting that images betray the words that would contain them. As simple as it seems, Magritte's painting depicts something akin to the revolt of the Real. (1) This painterly pun has become one of the most memorable and famous illustrations of the gap between the signifier and the signified as described by modern linguistics in the wake of de Saussure. (2) Yet, there is more to the image and its ability to trouble our expectations regarding the relationship between language and representation--between representation and reality--than a mere pun might indicate. There is something uncanny and unsettling about Magritte's painting, something disconcerting in the nonchalance with which the text both accurately describes the image (it is in fact not a pipe, but a painting of one) and subverts the signifier/signified relationship (if this is not a "pipe," then what is it?) that lingers in the minds of viewers long after ceasing to look at the image. There is something profoundly unsettling about this painting and the manner in which it disrupts the connection between what we perceive and what we think we know.

Hitchcock might have been a modernist by time period, but he was steeped in the British Gothic tradition that peaked in the nineteenth century. According to Fred Botting the Gothic is defined by a "negative aesthetics" that arose as a response, and a counterpoint, to challenge Enlightenment certainties in Europe during the eighteenth century. "Knowledge and understanding do not constitute the primary aim of gothic texts," he writes, "what counts is the production of affects and emotions, often extreme and negative: fear, anxiety, terror, horror, disgust and revulsion are staple emotional responses" (6). More than just an interest in generic conventions or aspects of style, however, Hitchcock is interested in the ability of the Gothic mode to explore the dark territories beyond reason and language, which is also an aspect of the modernism of Magritte's surrealism. Hitchcock seems particularly interested in what Botting describes as the "negative aesthetics" of the Gothic: "Reason is overwhelmed by feeling and passion, and signaled as a horrified, paralyzing encounter with something unspeakable, an obscure presence too great to comprehend evoking an excess of feeling or registering an experience too intense for words" (6, emphasis added). From his early and obsessive interest in Jack the Ripper to his later adaptation of Gothic romances like Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, the Gothic was always a primary and formative factor in the development of Hitchcock's cinematic form and style. It is not until the 1950s, however, when he achieves a uniquely modernist gothic style, combining the "negative aesthetics" of the Gothic tradition with modernist experimentations similar to Magritte's explorations of the tenuous relationship between language and images, that Hitchcock perfects a dialectical structure, alternating between "talky" scenes built around dialogue, reflecting the desire to explain and understand the world through words, juxtaposed with scenes of pure cinema that evoke the Real which resists articulation or interpretation. Hitchcock achieves his greatest effect with this dialectical structure in his late modernist Gothic masterpieces: Vertigo, Psycho, and The Birds. (3)

Charles Barr observes that the film many consider Hitchcock's masterpiece, Vertigo (1958), is remarkable for its deliberate pattern of alternation between dialogue and non-dialogue scenes, between conventional drama and "pure cinema." (4) This pattern, Barr notes, is present all the way back in Hitchcock's first "talkie," Blackmail (1929), and variations of it show up in several of his later films, most notably Rear Window (1954), "but in none of them is the pattern as systematic as in Vertigo" (56). Beginning with Saul Bass's famous opening credits sequence, which emphasizes extreme close-ups of a mystery woman's face, (5) the close-ups focus on the eyes and spiraling designs signifying a state of vertigo (a theme underscored by the spiraling sounds of Bernard Herrmann's masterful score). The title of the film and the spiral motif emerge from the woman's eye, as if Hitchcock is telling us that the thematic significance--the meaning--of his film derives from the evidence of your eyes, from what you see. The title sequence is immediately followed by a thrilling roof-top chase in medias res: a sequence of "pure cinema," which culminates with the protagonist, Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart), dangling from a gutter over a San Francisco back alley. Metaphorically this alley can be read as Scottie dangling over the abyss of the Real, and the sequence establishes a feeling of existential dread that lingers throughout the film (Fig. 2). Scottie's vertigo, signified cinematically by the famous "vertigo shot," makes the street appear to stretch away from our perspective, which is aligned here and for much of the film with Scottie's point of view. The police officer who comes back to aid Scottie--an agent of law and order, of language and reason--slips and falls to his death into the alley, into the abyss of the Real, leaving Scottie (and the audience) dangling helplessly in a state of intense vertigo, and establishing the theme and purpose of the film, not unlike a thesis statement written as pure cinema. Like Scottie, the viewer will spend the film figuratively dangling over this abyss in a state of vertigo, which represents psychological and emotional states that exceed the boundaries of language and reason. (6)

These two opening sequences of Hitchcockian "pure cinema" are followed by two dialogue-heavy scenes of exposition--a scene in Midge's (Barbara Bel Geddes) apartment and a scene in which Scottie's old college buddy, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore), explains the problem with his wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak), and attempts to hire the recently grounded Scottie as a private detective to follow his wife and find out where she is going. Of course, as we will eventually find out, the real Madeleine is not Kim Novak, but she is the signified onto which the displaced signifier "Madeleine" has been grafted (Fig. 3). Like Scottie's vertigo, Madeleine's "problem" exceeds the ability of language to articulate and classify it. Is her problem psychological? Or is it supernatural? Is she going mad? Or is she possessed by the ghost of Carlotta Valdes? The former coincides with a rational explanation while Scottie, the sober lawman, rejects the latter as outright nonsense, even though Hitchcock hints at the uncanny just enough--particularly in the sequence at the gothic McKittrick hotel--to make the supernatural seem not only plausible but possible. Hitchcock, by forcing the audience into a relentless identification with Scottie's perspective, suggests that there is a degree of validity to both interpretations of Madeleine's character, psychological and supernatural, even though both of them are actually fictions concocted as part of Elster's scheme. (7) These two dialogue-heavy scenes of exposition are followed by Hitchcock's most sustained sequence of pure cinema as Scottie follows the woman whom he thinks is Madeleine around San Francisco.

This pattern of alternation between "pure cinema," built around Scottie's perspective as he tracks Madeleine, and dialogue-heavy scenes of exposition continues until the parallel lines of Scottie's wanderings and Madeleine's wanderings converge after she jumps into San Francisco Bay in an apparent suicide attempt and Scottie has to jump in to save her, moving him from passive voyeur into active agent in Elster's fiction. After a dialogue-heavy scene in Scottie's apartment--the first that is driven more by dramatic tension than the needs of exposition--one would expect the pattern to resume with a lengthy sequence of pure cinema. Hitchcock, however, subverts this expectation with a sequence that begins like the other tracking sequences, only to have Scottie follow Madeleine to his own apartment, where she is dropping off a note apologizing for running off so quickly the night before and to thank him for helping her. From this point on they "wander together" (a subtly self-reflexive oxymoron that describes the structure of the film), their respective narratives merged into a single narrative, as Scottie suggests the two do when he confronts her at his door.

All of this leads up to the sequence at the Dolores Mission when Madeleine runs up the tower and this time appears to be successful in her suicide attempt. Scottie, of course, cannot follow her all of the way to the top because of his vertigo. Immediately after this climactic scene, there is a caesura in the action, which functions as a kind of entr'acte between the two mirror-like halves of Vertigo. The next scene, after a fade to black, is an inquest into the death of Madeline that functions as, simultaneously, a summary and "explanation" of the film up to that point. The juxtaposition, however, of what the audience has just seen and experienced with the dry, legal summary of the same action brings into relief the inadequacy of language to encapsulate and to express what both Scottie and the audience have just seen with their own eyes.

It is telling, given the pattern of alternation between dialogue-heavy scenes of exposition and sequences of "pure cinema" comprising the first half of Vertigo, that the middle of the film is a dialogue-driven caesura between two halves which, despite the talky expository scenes interwoven throughout, are dominated by Hitchcock's "pure cinema" insofar as what one sees, the cinematic experience itself, is what sticks in the memory. Taking the time to chide Scottie for not doing more to save Madeleine, the coroner at the inquest (Henry Jones) concludes: "But we are not here to pass judgment on Mr. Ferguson's lack of initiative. He did nothing. The law has little to say on the subject of things left undone." (8) Hitchcock is again subtly revealing one of his major themes: the limitations of language and the ironic dependency of the Law--and all of the connotations that word implies--on the indeterminate authority and integrity of signification. The law of language might have little to say on the subject of things left undone (one cannot prove a negative), but Hitchcock's cinema has much more to say about it. The jury is forced to find that Madeleine "committed suicide while of unsound mind," which is a neat and tidy verdict that does not satisfactorily explain anything (it is even ultimately proved wrong since Madeleine was murdered and did not commit suicide). All of this is part of Hitchcock's larger strategy of undermining the authority and legitimacy of language, which is disguised as part of his more overt strategy of creating suspense in the minds of his audience. After the inquest, Gavin Elster speaks alone with Scottie one last time before leaving for good. "There's no way for them to understand," he says, "you and I know who killed Madeleine." The ambiguity of this declaration speaks volumes in hindsight. Elster means that whatever Carlotta Valdes signifies (madness? a ghost? The repressed past?) is what killed Madeleine, but in reality he killed Madeleine--his wife, the real Madeleine, not Judy Barton (Novak). With enough knowledge and the proper context, this line also works as a confession, but there's no way for "them"--the jury, the audience--to understand at this juncture.

The shower scene in Psycho is possibly the best example of how effective Hitchcock's method of alternation between dialogue-driven drama and pure cinema can be in evoking the horror of the Real, coming as it does right after a dialogue-heavy sequence that is a masterpiece of miscommunication: the scene in the parlor behind the office of the Bates Motel in which Norman and Marion talk and eat sandwiches while stuffed birds of prey loom threateningly in the background.'* Marion thinks she understands what Norman is telling her--his words even inspire her to do the right thing with the money she stole. Hitchcock, however, is setting us up; he lulls us into a false sense of security by trading on our faith in language and its ability to signify. As Larry Gross sums up: "The sandwich-eating scene is rich with the revelation of psychological meaning through language-based and acting-based means," or, in other words, standard conventions of drama. "The shower murder," Gross continues, "is the eradication of any and all such meaning" (41-3). Psycho, a film that more or less begins as a conventional, character- and plot-driven drama is interrupted violently by the Real in the forms of "Mother" and Hitchcock's "pure cinema." Gross concludes, "The death of Marion and the powerful advent of Norman's mother--with all of his/her perplexing unreality as a person--as the film's new centre, signifies the absolute victory of image over language" (43, emphasis added).

J. P. Telotte, in "Faith and Idolatry in the Horror Film," views the shower scene as the "premier case" of the tendency in the horror film to manipulate audience reaction through the "perception/participation nexus" (148). "Rather than a participative vision and attitude," Telotte writes, "we have opted unconsciously for a kind of idolatry, and surely one of Hitchcock's points here, as in most of his films, is the hazard posed by such a lack of awareness" (149). Reading Hitchcock's emphasis on eyes and the theme of voyeurism in Psycho, Telotte argues that the first half of the film is about the transformation of Marion from subject whom we identify with into object, or idol. According to Telotte, "Hitchcock's particular strategy is to awaken us to [the dehumanizing danger of objectification] by manifesting our common alienation from a proper perception of the world and our place in it" (149). Viewed within the context of Hitchcock's structure of alternation between the primacy of language and the primacy of images, this scene--when considered along with those that came before and after--is a depiction of the struggle between language as a means of participating in the world and the resistance of the image (or pure cinema) to signify. The shock of the shower scene is a testament to the essential otherness of the image and its resistance to language (Fig. 4).10

In the shower sequence, there is no dialogue, no voiceover, nothing at all in the scene that offers the comfort of linguistic explanation, the comfort of putting the trauma and shock of "Mother's" attack into words, nor is there any element of this scene that could be described as literary in any way. (11) It is a definitive example of pure cinema, relying as it does on the cumulative effect of quick and careful cutting between many separate shots, a stark yet simple mise-en-scene in black and white, and Bernard Herrmann's notorious all-strings score to achieve the nerve-shattering effects of shock and horror in the imaginations of an audience. David Sterritt points to a paradox at the heart of Hitchcock's "pure cinema," however, noting that "[the shower murder scene's] most significant aspect may be the fact that its kineticism not only shoivs but obscures" (108). This paradox is the point on which Hitchcock's cinema turns; Hitchcock shows and obscures simultaneously through the dynamic juxtaposition of images and language. Ironically, Hitchcock implies that one has to tell to show properly, or rather that a glimpse of the Real can only be obtained obliquely through the frission created by the interaction between showing and telling.

The denouement of Psycho has been criticized for its dialogue-driven exposition, but considered in the context of Hitchcock's dialectical pattern of alternation, its importance becomes clear. (12) Hitchcock's placement of this scene between two powerful examples of pure cinema is no accident, revealing a deliberately planned dialectical pattern that again pits cinema against language, as we have seen through analysis of Vertigo's structure. Psycho's climactic scene, in which Marion's sister Lila Crane (Vera Miles) finds what is left of Norman's mother preserved in the fruit cellar of the old gothic house behind the motel, is the first sequence of "pure cinema" that frames the talky psychiatrist scene. The scene is again a masterful example of Hitchcock's practice of pure cinema: quick cuts between close-ups of mother's corpse--the remainder of the Real that cannot be assimilated into Norman's being--and Lila Crane's screaming face, her hand knocking the bare bulb hanging from the ceiling which creates a slashing lighting effect underscored by Herrmann's slashing strings, and then Norman's appearance in the door, where he is seen wielding a butcher knife and wearing a matronly dress and wig, which signifies his appearance as "Mother." Lila is saved just in the knick of time by Sam Loomis (John Gavin), who wrestles "Mother" to the ground, tearing open the dress and knocking off the wig in the process, which vividly reveals Norman as the misplaced signified filling the signifier, "Mother."

Immediately after this final shock of the Real, Hitchcock dissolves from a medium shot of Sam subduing Norman to an establishing shot of the courthouse (the house of the Law), which in turn provides the transition into the exposition scene of Dr. Richmond, the psychiatrist, providing Lila and Sam (and by extension the now thoroughly shocked and horrified audience) with ostensibly definitive explanations for everything that has happened in the film. "As played by Simon Oakland," writes Donald Spoto, who refers to Richmond's explanations as "jejune," "the psychiatrist is pompous and unattractive, not quite trustworthy in spite of his concise yet impressively detailed explanations. He cannot dispel our wonder at the complexities of what we have just experienced" (379-80). (13) Hitchcock clearly creates a tension between the comforting tone and authority of Dr. Richmond's clinical explanations and the flat, emotionless responses from Sam and Lila on the one hand and the horror of what the audience has just experienced cinematically on the other. This dissociation between the reassurance of words (abetted by the authority of the law) and the unsettling images and sounds that elide language at every turn (the Real) is one that Hitchcock, time and again, quite deliberately exploits.

"As the movie ends," writes J. P. Telotte, "the visual threat seems completely evaporated, for the voice of reason in the person of the psychiatrist Dr. Richmond takes over, fully explaining Norman's psychosis and thereby reestablishing for us a world which seems comfortingly rational" (152). Sherriff Chambers assures Sam and Lila (and again--vicariously--the audience) that, "If anyone gets any answers, it'll be the psychiatrist" (emphasis added). Immediately within the context of the psychiatrist's explanation, Hitchcock underscores the linguistic gap between the signifier and the thing signified by having Dr. Richmond struggle to explain to his befuddled audience how he did not get the account of the murders from Norman, but in fact he got the story from "Mother." Further emphasizing the inadequacy of language to express the Real, Dr. Richmond replies to Lila's direct question, "Did he kill my sister?" with further equivocation: "Yes ... and no," he replies (Fig. 5).

Dr. Richmond's answer requires a both/and dialectical reading that is difficult to express through linguistic structures and their reliance on either/or logic. It is at this point that Hitchcock introduces, through the dramatic situation itself, the conflict between different discourses in their attempts to most satisfactorily account for and explain what "Mother," through her agent Norman, has in fact done. Suspicious that he might be trying to lay the foundation for some kind of insanity plea, the officers in charge take issue with Dr. Richmond's both/and logic. "A psychiatrist doesn't lay the groundwork" for a legal defense, Dr. Richmond responds, "He merely tries to explain it."

The psychiatrist is careful to distinguish his narrative as one that does not excuse but only offers an attempt at explanation, addressing the "why" question, as opposed to legal or journalistic narratives, which focus more intensely on the "who, what, when, where, how" questions in order to ascertain guilt beyond reasonable doubt through more standard conventions of logic. There are multiple official stories, multiple windows offering a view into the house of the "truth," but there is an excess that none of these narratives can ever account for, a Real that exceeds their linguistic grasp. As it was in Vertigo, this is Hitchcock's subject in Psycho, just as it is a primary theme of his cinema in general, and I believe this is the primary reason that he insisted on the psychiatrist scene as it is. Just for clarification, an oddly subdued--for having just learned that her sister has been murdered--Lila speaks up at this point of Dr. Richmond's explanation to ask, "But my sister is ..." unable herself to say the word that so inadequately signifies the awful totality of death in its excessive reality and horrible finality; death is perhaps the sine qua non of the Real.

Regardless of how one parses the explanation of why or how, legal or medical, her sister is indeed dead; no words can alter that fact nor adequately express the reality of it, either to Lila or to the audience. Hitchcock is not seeking an emotional response at this point--if he were he would have had Lila break down in tears at the loss of her sister--he elicits a conceptual, even critical, reaction from his audience. The fact that Hitchcock has stripped this dialogue-heavy scene of any kind of emotion underscores the inadequacy of language to fully represent or satisfactorily articulate certain aspects of the human experiences that may be more closely attuned to the Real, an idea Hitchcock emphasizes by framing the psychiatrist scene between scenes of pure cinema.

When Sam, who is, like Lila, little more than a surrogate for the film's audience now, asks "[W]hy was he dressed like that?" an officer of the Law (again with all connotations that the word implies, socially and psychologically) eagerly offers an answer, forcing Norman into a category in an attempt to contain him, to make him signify again: "He's a transvestite!" Dr. Richmond again provides calmly clarifying answers, drawing distinctions through definitions: "A man who dresses in women's clothing in order to achieve a sexual change, or satisfaction," he states, "is a transvestite. But in Norman's case, he was simply doing everything possible to keep alive the illusion of his mother being alive." In other words, Norman was doing everything possible to attach the emptied signifiers of "Mother" onto a new signified, his own person.

In order to be filled up with a new significance, however, the signified object must first be emptied of any prior significance. "[Wjhen reality came too close, when danger or desire threatened that illusion--he dressed up," Dr. Richmond explains, "[h]e tried to be his mother. And, uh ... now he is." Except this is not exactly true; Norman both is and is not his mother, and Hitchcock wants us to experience cinematically--to not only comprehend but to actually feel--the breakdown of language's ability to provide the comfort of signification. "In Psycho," claims Slavoj Zizek, "finally, we reach the level of the real: Norman Bates, who dresses in his mother's clothes, speaks with her voice, etc., wants neither to resuscitate her image nor act in her name; he wants to take her place in the real--evidence of a psychotic state" (131). So Hitchcock again follows a scene that appeals to the epistemological authority of language with another brief scene of pure cinema that appeals to an unmediated emotional response in his audience, playing on the contrast between the psychiatrist's authoritative explanation of Norman's condition with the reality of what we see with our own eyes, which is indicative of the Real that cannot be subsumed in words.

In his "quick coda" to this talky, emotionless scene, Hitchcock provides one last flourish of "pure cinema," culminating in a coup de grace: a triple dissolve of Norman, staring and grinning directly into camera in close-up, overlaid briefly by a matching close-up of his mother's preserved corpse (an image that just barely registers on the viewer's consciousness), which finally dissolves into the film's final image: the car containing Marion's corpse being pulled by a chain from the swamp. (14)

This final shot then fractures into horizontal bars--echoing Saul Bass's opening credit sequence--pulling the fragmented images off-screen, leaving nothing but a black screen behind, leaving the audience to stare into the abyss of the Real. This final sequence consists almost solely of a slow tracking shot of Norman sitting, wrapped in a blanket, in a holding cell. The shot begins in a long shot of Norman, framed off center to the left, but the camera's tracking culminates in a close-up of Norman perfectly centered in the frame, his transformation into a sign representing "Mother" complete. Throughout this final sequence, Hitchcock underscores the dissociation between Mother's voice (signifier) and Norman (signified) through purely cinematic means by incongruously juxtaposing the audio element, the authority of language represented by mother's scolding voice heard in voiceover, with the image of Norman as the camera moves in slowly--suggesting that perhaps moving closer, looking closer, will somehow narrow the gap between signified and signifier. Toles "suggests) that Norman's voice at the end of Psycho is the only authentic voice we hear in the film. He is simultaneously revealed--at that instant when he finally meets the camera's gaze and looks directly at us--as possessing the only acceptable pair of eyes" (165). When "mother" says that "[t]hey're probably watching me. Well, let them. Let them see what kind of person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching ... they'll see. They'll sec and they'll know, and they'll say, 'Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly ..." (emphasis added), she is clearly referring not only to the police but also to the audience watching Psycho. This point is emphasized in the final image as Norman looks up and stares directly into the camera, directly at the audience, daring us--challenging us--to confront what we see, not what we presume to know and understand. As Telotte writes, "we alone see the truth of Norman's condition, and his eyes, staring directly into the camera, challenge us to cope with the horror he represents" (152). The final palimpsest of images in the triple dissolve and the subsequent fragmentation of the screen conveys, more than mere words ever can, Hitchcock's message that the horror of Psycho is not over, can never be over, because it rises out of a gap between perception and reality, between signifier and signified (Fig. 6).15 Hitchcock knew that real horror, genuine terror, was not merely a matter of shocks and haunted-house tricks, and this is something that too few horror film directors understand.

Perhaps the best example of Hitchcock's metacinematic exploration on the inadequacy of language, however, comes from his subsequent film, The Birds (1963). The centerpiece is a dialogue-heavy scene in which various residents of Bodega Bay regroup in the Tides Diner and try to articulate the inexplicable, signified by the bird attacks, sandwiched between two masterpieces of pure cinema. "Hitchcock has never been generous in his view of language," notes David Sterritt, "and rarely has he exceeded this scene in demonstrating the uselessness of mere talk" (135). Camille Paglia, views the scene as a kind of play-within-the-film, complete with its own three-act structure: "The tripartite sequence, totaling fourteen minutes, demonstrates the full range of Hitchcock's genius, from his shrewd notation of everyday behavior and his seductive manipulation of emotion to his acrobatic staging of action sequences" (69).

As in Vertigo and Psycho before, Hitchcock suddenly breaks the narrative momentum approximately one-third of the way into the film. What begins as a kind of domestic drama focused on the budding romance of society girl Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) and lawyer Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor), inexorably descends into the dark territory of the horror film once the birds suddenly start attacking the residents of Bodega Bay. Why are the birds attacking? What has set them off? There has to be some sort of rational explanation, right? Our rational minds desperately seek some way to describe and explain away the horror of these attacks in an attempt to explain away the reality of what our eyes have seen, an attempt to explain away this irruption of the Real within the glossy fantasies of melodrama and the reassuring rules and conventions of genre.

Donald Spoto calls the birds "an objective correlative for what is unpredictable and arbitrary in life." "They do not, finally, stand for any 'thing,'" he concludes, "Rather they represent all the unacknowledged, invisible forces of destruction and disorder which inhabit every psyche and which subordinate human life to a capricious universe" (388). Zizek elaborates on the symbolic significance--or more precisely their insignificance--of Hitchcock's birds as representatives of the Real that exceeds order and signification. "In his film," Zizek claims, "the birds are not 'symbols' at all, they play a direct part in the story as something inexplicable, as something outside the rational chain of events, as a lawless impossible real. The diegetic action of the film is so influenced by the birds that their massive presence completely overshadows the domestic drama: the drama--literally--loses its significance" (136). Zizek's observation illustrates that Hitchcock engages with the breakdown of significance at various levels; the horror signified by the birds breaks down and challenges the conventions of genre, infecting the domestic drama with the horror film. As we saw with Psycho and Vertigo, however, Hitchcock emphasizes the inadequacy of language as the real horror at the heart of The Birds.

Also, as with the denouement of Psycho, the scene is not without its critics. Francois Truffaut asked Hitchcock specifically about the Tides Diner scene, noting that "[i]t seemed too long," and "wasn't exactly essential to the story." After acknowledging that the scene did not "necessarily add anything," Hitchcock attempts to justify its inclusion as "giv[ing] the audience a rest before going back to horror." He continues:

That scene in the restaurant is a breather that allows for a few laughs. The character of the drunk is straight out of an [Sean] O'Casey play, and the elderly lady ornithologist is pretty interesting. In truth, you are right. The scene is a little on the long side, but I feel that if the audience is absorbed in it, it is automatically shortened. I've always measured the length or brevity of a scene by the degree of interest it holds for the public. If they're completely absorbed, it's a short scene; if they're bored, the scene is bound to be too long. (Truffaut 292)

One cannot help but feel that Hitchcock is being a little disingenuous in his quick capitulation to Truffaut and in his willingness to determine value solely through audience reaction. Like a good poker player or magician, Hitchcock is careful not to tip his hand, for the "scene in the restaurant" clearly serves more of a purpose than "a breather" to the structure of The Birds as a whole, particularly when viewed in the context of Hitchcock's dialectical method of alternation between sequences of pure cinema framed by dialogue-heavy scenes.

The scene in the diner, following the structural pattern we have seen in Vertigo and Psycho, follows a masterful scene of pure cinema in which Melanie waits outside the Bodega Bay School oblivious to a murder of crows (or are they blackbirds?) landing one by one on the jungle gym behind her. (16) The music playing over the scene has a diegetic source: the school children singing "Risseldy, Rosseldy," a folk tune composed largely of nonsense words, in unison, which provides a hauntingly uncanny effect to the scene as the children's song of innocence is recontextualized as a horror cue by the end of the scene. Inevitably, Melanie notices the birds, which have almost blacked out the playground equipment, and they attack her and the children fleeing the schoolhouse shortly thereafter.

Hitchcock follows this sequence of pure cinema with the dialogue-heavy scene at the appropriately named Tides Diner, (17) a location that ebbs and flows between high and low cultural discourses. As we fade in, Melanie is on the phone with her father struggling to explain the incredible things that she--and we, the viewers--have just witnessed in the attack on the schoolhouse. While she is on the phone, Hitchcock presents another version of the Dr. Richmond character from Psycho, another variation on the archetypal "expert" representing the authority of language. This expert-figure, Mrs. Bundy (Ethel Griffies), who conveniently for purposes of drama and exposition just so happens to be an ornithologist, enters the diner just in time to overhear Melanie say, in an attempt to explain to her father through a medium dependent on mere words, the telephone, "No, the birds didn't attack until the children were outside the school. Crows, I think. I don't know, Daddy. Is there a difference between crows and blackbirds?" To which Mrs. Bundy retorts (Fig. 7): "There is very definitely a difference, Miss." Mrs. Bundy is clearly the authoritative voice of science, there to provide exposition for the audience, but she is also a foil for Hitchcock's satire of the inadequacy of language and logic: "Her biological chatter and Latin terminology seem irrelevant to Melanie, compared with the real horror of the attacks" (Sterritt 134). Mrs. Bundy further establishes her expertise by stating the different scientific names for crows and blackbirds, to which, Deke (Lonny Chapman), the diner operator who has been listening in, responds, "I don't see what difference it makes, Mrs. Bundy, crows or blackbirds. If they attacked the school, that's pretty serious." Hitchcock's reminder that you can call death and destruction by any names that you like, but how can that explain away the reality of what Melanie, the schoolchildren, and the audience have seen with their own eyes? Crows and blackbirds are mere words, sound signs (arbitrary signifiers to use Fedinand de Saussure's terminology) that have lost their ability to signify in this apocalyptic tale of vindictive nature. After all, wouldn't genuine apocalypse, by definition, occur when language ceased to signify, when a new revelation of the Real is stripped of the veil of language? Through ostensibly forgettable dialogue, dialogue that simply cannot satisfactorily explain the images it attempts to describe, Hitchcock, in collaboration with his screenwriter, Evan Hunter, underscores the inadequacy of language as a foundation for the existential dread he cultivates in his audience as suspense--a suspense that is drawn over the abyss of the Real in the gap between signifier and signified.

Mrs. Bundy persists, however, in a condescending tone: "I hardly think either species would have the intelligence to launch a massed attack. Their brain pans aren't large enough for such...." At this point Melanie interrupts to verify her own authority as an eyewitness to what happened at the school, an authority shared vicariously by the audience. Mrs. Bundy, the voice of scientific reason, remains unconvinced however, arguing that "[b]irds are not aggressive creatures.... They bring beauty to the world. It is mankind, rather, who...." At which point she and her calm, reasonable discourse is interrupted again by the contingencies of the Real; this time in the form of Helen, the waitress, yelling an order for "[t]hree southern fried chickens" into the kitchen. Deke, the voice of a reality (the excess of the Real) that will not mesh with its rational explanation, tries one last time to explain to Mrs. Bundy that she doesn't "seem to understand. This young lady says there was an attack on the school." Provoking a dismissive, "Impossible" from Mrs. Bundy. Hitchcock's cinema, however, is a direct challenge to the line between impossible and possible.

A more complicated scene than the psychiatrist scene in Psycho or the inquest scene in Vertigo, however, this "play-within-the film" serves as a metadiscourse on the film as a whole, and indeed on Hitchcock's ideas about the relationship between words and images in the age of cinema. Less a unilateral monologue of authoritative explanation like the other two scenes, the diner scene functions as a debate between different discourses represented almost allegorically by archetypal characters. Mrs. Bundy, of course, represents the cool, self-assured discourses of science, which presumes to contain and tame all reality through categorization, like wild animals kept in cages at the zoo. An anachronistic barfly with an Irish accent, perhaps a remnant of that offensive nineteenth-century stereotype, the Stage Irishman, (18) interjects an apocalyptic explanation of events, representing the cautionary discourses of religion, quoting Biblical verse punctuated by his exclamations of "It's the end of the world!" A fishing boat captain, Mr. Sholes, provides another eyewitness account of bird attacks from the position of authority warranted by his title and profession, describing seagull attacks on his boat, which Mrs. Bundy quickly explains away by declaring that "[t]he gulls were after your fish, Mr. Sholes. Really, let's be logical about this." Melanie counters Mrs. Bundy with the question: "What were the crows after at the school?" Having no answer to this since there is no rational explanation, Mrs. Bundy turns the question around on her. Melanie replies that she thinks "they were after the children":

MRS. BUNDY: For what purpose?

MELANIE: To ... (she hesitates) To kill them.

(There is a long silence.)


(Another silence.)

MELANIE: I don't know why.

To this, Mrs. Bundy replies, committing a variation of a "begging the question" fallacy, through which she claims victory in the debate, "I thought not," vanquishing the validity of Melanie's experience in the debate because it cannot be explained logically through the discourses of science: "Birds have been on this planet since archaeopteryx, Miss Daniels; a hundred and twenty million years ago!" So, from the limitations of her perspective, bird attacks could not have happened because they have never happened before, ipso facto. Mogg emphasizes the importance of Mrs. Bundy's role in Hitchcock's satire of signification:

   Not all of her statistics, it seems, nor
   her bird-friendly disposition, can
   protect Mrs. Bundy from the irresistible
   "force" the birds represent. Indeed,
   the Tides Restaurant scene and
   the bird attack on the town, coming
   shortly before the siege of the Brenner
   house, effectively foreclose on
   any facile optimism that "all will be
   well." Neither science nor art nor religion
   is directly called into question
   here--just an unwarranted dependence
   on such things.

A salesman enters the diner shortly after the above exchange, representing not only a vicious pragmatism, but perhaps Hitchcock's take on the discourses of Cold War reactionaries common to the period: "Gulls are scavengers, anyway," he dismissively sums up, "Most birds are. If you ask me, we should wipe them all out. World would be better off without them." All one has to do is replace "gulls" with "communists" to get Hitchcock's thinly veiled criticism of groupthink and Cold War paranoia. (19) A frightened mother along with her two children represents the fears and anxieties of a threatened domesticity as she aligns herself with the salesman in looking for an escort to San Francisco. Around this time, Mitch--Melanie's love interest--arrives with a local lawman, Mr. Malone, from Dan Fawcett's farm, whose eyeless corpse the audience has already seen. "He was killed last night. By birds," Mitch bluntly states. Mr. Malone, yet another of Hitchcock's lawmen, obviously representing the discourses of the Law, aligns himself with Mrs. Bundy's scientific perspective, retorting, "Now hold it, Mitch. You don't know that for a fact," and he clings to a more rational explanation that "a burglar broke in and killed him." Like the lawmen at the end of Psycho, he prefers to stick to "just the facts," even when those facts have lost the ability to signify. This debate continues without any resolution for a few more minutes until Hitchcock underscores the futility of language and discourse in the face of the ineffable by assaulting his audience with a subsequent scene of almost entirely dialogue free "pure cinema," inaugurated, appropriately, by Melanie suddenly yelling "Look!" Melanie's exclamation is as much a directive to us, the audience, as it is to the various people huddled in the Tides Diner. It is as if Hitchcock is saying to us, see with your own eyes; explain this; articulate what I am about to show you.

The subsequent sequence begins with Bernard Herrmann's now familiarly unfamiliar bird sounds beginning to punctuate the sound track, inarticulate and artificial sounds intruding on and obliterating the discourses of reason, which in turn prompts Melanie to look through the diner's window at what is going on outside where she sees a gas station attendant hit by a gull. Mitch, Mr. Malone, and another man run out to help the gas station attendant and the other diners gather behind Melanie to watch the scene outside unfold through a large picture window. In a series of brilliantly edited reaction shots, Hitchcock, in a classic example of his formula for creating suspense, reveals to the audience and then to Melanie that the gas from the pump is still flowing on to the ground. Melanie follows the flow of gasoline to a car and the salesman obliviously lighting his cigar, directing those gathered around her as well as the film's audience on where to look: "Look at the gas; that man's lighting a cigar!" Melanie opens the window and she and those gathered with her attempt to yell warnings to the man. "In a dark Hitchcockian joke," as Sterritt puts it, "the man hears their calls without understanding them--again, language fails" (136). Instead of producing their desired effect, the words shouted at the man cause him to pause mid-light in an attempt to register where all the shouting is coming from and what its purpose is. The match burns his fingers and he drops it, which engulfs him and his car in flames: it is the salesman, not the birds, who has been wiped out. Hitchcock cuts back and forth from long shots of the fire as it follows the trail of gas back to isolated, eerily static, close-ups of Melanie frozen with an expression of horror on her face (Figs. 8a, b, and c), culminating in the fire reaching its source at the pumps and resulting in another fiery explosion. This sequence is cinema, pure and simple: the sum of the shots is greater than the whole, and it all transcends the human scale of expression through language or any other art.

It is at this point that Hitchcock cuts to one of his famous cinematic puns, a "birdseye" view extreme high angle long shot of Bodega Bay with the fire burning right through the center of the frame, producing an effect a little like a film strip beginning to burn and melt in the projector. The people on the ground look like ants as seagulls begin to soar into frame, first one then others. When Hitchcock cuts back to ground level he follows Melanie who, in an attempt to escape the diner as the gull attack intensifies, shuts herself in a phone booth. Hitchcock's editing mirrors the chaos of the bird attack, including a variety of extreme shots and angles to intensify the claustrophobia and panic of Melanie's predicament. He even breaks the "fourth wall" as he includes a shot of a gull flying right into the cinema screen and almost breaking the glass of the phone booth. Mitch is able to come to Melanie's rescue and get her back into the diner, and this is where Hitchcock makes clear his commentary on the inadequacy of language and the uncertainty lurking at the heart of any epistemology.

The diner is apparently empty; until Melanie and Mitch find the remaining occupants huddled in a back hallway in various states of shock (as is presumably the audience at this point). Again structuring the scene around basic principles of shot/ reaction shot, Hitchcock shows us what Melanie and Mitch see, using close-ups to emphasize some of the scared individuals, notably including Mrs. Bundy who is now shaking, huddling against the wall. She will not even turn and face Melanie. She is now defeated and, more importantly, speechless--without words, without language. After exchanging glances in a heavy silence (not even the bird sounds can be heard on the soundtrack), Hitchcock breaks the tension with an angry outburst from the panicked mother who is looking for a scapegoat: "Why are they doing this? They said when you got here the whole thing started? Who are you? What are you? Where did you come from? I think you're the cause of all this. I think you're evil. Evil!" Hitchcock frames this hysterical outburst in close-up from Melanie's point of view. The mother looks right into the camera, addressing the audience as much as Melanie, and, of course, the audience is indeed the cause of all this in the sense that commercial cinema caters to the desires of paying customers. Paglia points out that Melanie "has become the ritual scapegoat," drawing a comparison to Shirley Jackson's short story, "The Lottery" (74), a comment that could as easily apply to Marion Crane or Madeline/Judy Barton.

This kind of cinematic irony, playing with the relationship between film and audience by implicating the audience in the judgment of Melanie, is common in Hitchcock and he often exploits it to highlight the gaps between representation and language in a way that underscores the ability of cinema to realize them. If there were no audience, there would be no film and, it would logically follow, no bird attacks. Sterritt surmises, "Hitchcock inaugurated his sound-film career by worrying aloud that dialogue might displace 'the technique of the pure motion picture/ and despite the importance of carefully crafted screenplays to his oeuvre he remained a scopophile rather than logophile ... [a] tendency [that] veers into logophobia in The Birds, which is about the futility of language" (142). Or, one might say, it is about the difference between crows and blackbirds. Hitchcock shows us that the horror lies in the space of that difference (Fig. 10).

One might steal Magritte's title for his painting of a pipe, which is also not a pipe, to sum up Hitchcock's dialectical structure--dialogue-heavy scenes alternating with scenes of pure cinema--as his own cinematic depiction of the treason of images. His reminder that images, as avatars of the Real always exceeding the grasp of language, betray the words that would pin them down, hold them still, and make them mean. Hitchcock's most mature, most definitive style is a distinctly modernist Gothic that exposes the myth of language, pulls back the proverbial shower curtain, and provides us with a glimpse of a more profound horror than a slashing knife or attacking birds. He shows us the horror of the Real, which is always lurking there just beyond the limits of language.


I would like to thank Charles Bradshaw and Mattie Davenport for reading earlier drafts of this article and providing me with invaluable feedback and criticism.


(1) The Real (along with the Imaginary and Symbolic orders) is part of Jacques Lacan's trinity of subjectivity. It "is the intractable and substantial world that resists and exceeds interpretation. The Real cannot be imagined, symbolized or known directly; it constantly eludes our efforts to name it.... The Real is fundamentally 'Other,' ... and is signaled in the language by gaps, slips, speechlessness, and the sense of the uncanny. The Real is not what we call 'reality.'" (Murfin and Ray 328, emphasis added)

(2) In his influential Course in General Linguistics, first published posthumously in 1913, de Saussure first described the linguistic "sign" as the "signified [signifie] and signifier [significant]; the last two terms have the advantage of indicating the opposition that separates them from each other and from the whole of the which they are parts. [...] The bond between the signifier and the signified is arbitrary" (647). De Saussure's linguistic theories became the foundation of later twentieth-century philosophical movements such as Structuralism, Post-Structuralism, and Deconstruction as well as Jacques Lacan's development of Freudian Psychoanalytic theory.

(3) What I am calling Hitchcock's dialectical structure, distinguished by his tendency to build suspense by alternating between dialogue-heavy scenes and scenes of pure cinema as a means of challenging the authority of language, is not unique only to his "Gothic" or horror films, but the desired effect, which is similar to Botting's description of the "negative aesthetics" of the Gothic, differs from, for example, a thriller like North by Northwest (1959), in which Hitchcock's fondness for slippery signifiers and linguistic misunderstandings tend towards the comically absurd more than towards horror. I would add, however, that there is a fine line between these two responses, but that is the subject for a longer project.

(4) Since Hitchcock's idea of "pure cinema" was rooted in his education during the silent era--as he told Truffaut "the silent cinema was the purest form of cinema"--it is likely that Hitchcock's structure, alternating between dialogue and non-dialogue scenes, is a modern equivalent to silent cinema's more direct juxtaposition of image with language in the pattern of scene--intertitle--scene.

(5) Significantly, not Kim Novak--is this the real Madeline Elster perhaps? Or just "woman" as arbitrary signifier?

(6) It is perhaps significant that we do not see Scottie rescued; instead there is a fadeout followed by a fade-in to the next scene in Midge's apartment. Barr notes that Chris Marker, "has drawn attention to [Vertigo's] artful pattern of ellipses: between Scottie's first sight of Madeline and his trailing her, eliding the decision; between his rescue of her from the bay and her waking in his bed, eliding the undressing of her; between their embrace in the hotel room and their preparation for dinner, eliding the love scene" (100), and of course the ellipsis in this instance. This is certainly an important observation in a film that uses pure cinema to elide language.

(7) This ambivalence reflects Vertigo's critical reputation as a "meta-film," whose subject is really its own making and the philosophy of cinema in general. Hitchcock calling attention to fictions within fictions reminds one of the idea that cinema itself is perhaps the supreme fiction of the 20th century. As William Rothman puts it, "In demonstrating something about the 'art of pure cinema/ as Hitchcock liked to call it, Hitchcock's films are asserting, declaring, something about themselves, something about their medium" (30).

(8) Reading the scene as meta-cinematic commentary, one can also interpret the coroner's condemnation of Scottie's passive voyeurism as a condemnation of the passive cinema audience who also does nothing but watch Madeleine with (through?) Scottie.

(9) Dialogue that differs significantly from Bloch's novel, lest anyone think that Hitchcock was only interested in "pure cinema." A quick comparison with the corresponding scene in the novel illustrates how much Hitchcock and his screenwriter, Joseph Stefa no, improved upon the novel's dialogue.

(10) Or, as Telotte puts it, a "visual primacy" is necessary to the horror film because "the most horrific effect is often achieved when that chaotic world is not completely dispelled, when we leave the theater still partially in the grip of those dark forces, temporarily unsure if we can ever fully restore normalcy's reign" (153).

(11) This scene is purely cinematic. One need only compare it to the source passage in Robert Bloch's novel to illustrate this point.

(12) It has been called "arguably--[Alfred] Hitchcock's worst scene" by Pauline Kael (Brody), and Hitchcock's most recent biographer Patrick McGilligan, restating the scene's reputation as a blemish on what is otherwise a cinematic masterpiece, suggests that it "may be [the] one defect of Psycho" (595). McGilligan goes on to explain that Hitchcock himself resisted other narrative possibilities suggested by his screenwriter, Joseph Stefano, insisting upon emphasizing "the final crescendo," the final twist of the knife revealing the truth about the relationship between Norman Bates and his mother, followed by "a quick coda" (595).

(13) Indeed, "wonder" is a very good word for describing the effect of Hitchcock's "pure cinema" on viewers, and Spoto identifies Hitchcock's intentions here: Richmond's words are set up to fail.

(14) "It's worth noting that most of the content of this "coda" is derived directly from Bloch's novel, which ends with the line from "Mother" about not even harming a fly, but there is nothing approximating this final flourish of pure cinema.

(15) This is underscored by the fact that, even though Hitchcock shows us Marion Crane's car being hauled up from the swamp in the film's final image, he stops short of showing us what's in the car. Even though the censorship of the time period certainly played a part in that decision, it also might be Hitchcock's way of reminding us that ultimately the Real exceeds representation in images as well as words.

(16) A "murder," being the collective noun referring to a group of crows, is a detail that surely was not lost on Hitchcock.

(17) The restaurant's name is perhaps an allusion to Hitchcock's cited source, as Ken Mogg notes: "If the birds represent an irresistible natural force, Daphne du Maurier cleverly suggests this by allying her birds with the ebb and flow of the tides; Hitchcock's film is content to just hint at the connection." See Mogg's full article for an excellent, exhaustive, discussion of the many literary sources and intertexts for The Birds.

(18) According to The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature, "the stage-Irishman was generally garrulous, boastful, unreliable, hard-drinking, belligerent (though cowardly), and chronically impecunious. His chief identifying marks were disorderly manners and insalubrious habits, together with the Hiberno-English dialect or brogue and a concomitant propensity for illogical utterance increasingly identified as his exclusive property and called the 'Irish bull'" (Welch 533). This certainly describes the character that Hitchcock referred to as a "drunk is straight out of an [Sean] O'Casey play."

(19) Just a year later, in 1964, Stanley Kubrick would much more directly and viciously satirize the language and absurd logic of the Cold War in Dr. Strangelove; or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.


Allen, Richard and S. Ishii Gonzales, ed. Alfred Hitchcock: Centenary Essays. London: BFI, 1999. Print.

Barr, Charles. Vertigo. London: BFI Film Classics, 2012. Print.

Botting, Fred. Gothic. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2014. Print.

Birds, The. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Perf. Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor. 1963. Universal, 2005. DVD.

Brody, Richard. "The Greatness of Psycho." The Neiv Yorker (Nov. 18, 2012). Web. 4 August 2014. culture/richard-brody/the-greatness-of-psycho

Cohen, Paula Marantz. "James, Hitchcock and the Fate of Character." Allen and Gonzales 15-27.

De Saussure, Ferdinand. "From Course in General Linguistics." Critical Theory Since 1965. Eds. Hazard Adams and Leroy Searle. Tallahassee, FL: Florida State UP, 1986. 646-56. Print.

Gottlieb, Sidney, ed. Alfred Hitchcock Interviews. Jackson, MS: UP of Mississippi, 2003. Print.

Gross, Larry. "Parallel lines: Hitchcock the Screenwriter." Sight and Sound: Hitchcock. London: BFI, 1999. Print.

Knight, Arthur. "Conversation with Alfred Hitchcock." Gottlieb 160-185.

McGilligan, Patrick. Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light. New York: Regan Books, 2004. Print.

Mogg, Ken. "The Day of the Claw: A Synoptic Account of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds." Senses of Cinema 51 Jul. 2009. Web. 17 Sep 2014. < 2009/towards-an-ecology-of-cinema/hitchcock-birds-synoptic-account/>.

Murfin, Ross and Supryia M. Ray. The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1998. Print.

Paglia, Camille. The Birds. London: BFI Film Classics, 1998. Print.

Psycho. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Perf. Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins. 1960. Universal, 2005. DVD.

Rothman, William. "Some Thoughts on Hitchcock's Authorship." Allen and Gonzales 28-42.

Samuels, Charles Thomas. "Alfred Hitchcock." Gottlieb 129-155.

Sharrett, Christopher. "The Myth of Apocalypse and the Horror Film: The Primacy of Psycho and The Birds." Hitchcock Annual 4 (1995): 38-60. Web. 18 June 2014.

Spoto, Donald. The Art of Alfred Hitchcock: Fifty Years of His Motion Pictures. New York: Hopkinson and Blake, 1976. Print.

Sterritt, David. The Films of Alfred Hitchcock. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993. Print.

Telotte, J. P. "Faith and Idolatry in the Horror Film" Literature/Film Quarterly 8.3 (1980): 143-55.

Toles, George. "'If Thine Eye Offend Thee ...': Psycho and the Art of Infection." Allen and Gonzales 159-174.

Truffaut, Francois. Hitchcock. Rev. ed. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983. Print.

Vertigo. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Perf. James Stewart and Kim Novak. 1958. Universal, 2005. DVD.

Welch, Robert, ed. The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996. Print.

Wood, Robin. Hitchcock's Films Revisited. New York: Columbia UP, 1989. Print.

Zizek, Slavoj. "The Hitchcockian Blot." Allen and Gonzales 123-139.

Caption: Figure 1: La Trahison des Images. The Treachery of Images (This is Not a Pipe). 1929. Reproduced with permission of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Digital Images. [c] 2016, Museum Associates/LACMA. Licenses by Art Resource, NY.

Caption: Figure 2: Dangling over the abyss of the Real.

Caption: Figure 3: This is not Madeleine.

Caption: Figure 4: The horror of the Real and the limits of language.

Caption: Figure 5: Dr. Richmond, "Yes ... and no."

Caption: Figure 6: Hitchock's treason of images.

Caption: Figure 7: Mrs. Bundy, the voice of authority.

Caption: Figures 8a, b, and c: Pure cinema deconstructed.

Caption: Figure 10: The difference between crows and blackbirds?


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Author:Longacre, Jeffrey
Publication:Post Script
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2015
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