University of California, Davis, USA
Title: "Vertiginous hauntings"
In Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) we are confronted by ghosts—of women who are thrown away by powerful men, of men obsessed with ideal images—and haunted by music—that conjures memories of tragic romance and portals of the past that look onto a game of seduction, control, staring back with a murderous gaze. This haunting takes vertiginous turns: Scottie is haunted by Madeleine, who is haunted by Carlotta, who is haunted by the powerful man who takes away their child. Powerful men are haunted by a need to control women and get away with murder. But hidden in this act of control is an act of forgery. We know these ghosts to be fake but they haunt us just the same. This paper will look at two ghostly returns to Vertigo: Gordon’s Feature Film (2000), and Lynn Hershman’s installation Vertighost (2017). Hershman multiplies the images of Madeleine, confusing it with the image of Carlotta by having three different actresses play Madeleine and return to the Legion of Honor only to look into a mirror rather than at a painting of Carlotta. Feature Film, which contains no image of any woman, is more of a supplementary film than a remake. It presents James Conlon, the conductor of the Paris Opera, performing Herman’s score. Gordon’s film frees Judy Barton from man’s hold, revealing underneath the look, a series of rivalries between men — between Hitchcock and Gordon as filmmakers, between Herman as composer and Conlon as conductor, between the musical score and Scottie’s emotional affect, between Elster and Scottie who vie to control Madeleine. But these are false rivalries, since without the snare of an enthralling image (Madeleine as simulacra), there is no longer any ground to fight over. Both Hershman and Gordon foreground deception and simulation, providing us with a performance of a performance. They draw attention to the truth of the lie.