Exam requirements• Paper • FM4, section C• Timings & Marks – 2 ¾ hours for exam – Allow 45 mins for this question – Worth 30 marks• What will the examiner expect to see in your answer? – Knowledge of some of the different critical responses provoked by the chosen film – An appreciation of the film’s status: • as a stylistically innovative film or a significant auteur work • contribution to the way we think theoretically about film. • Understanding of the issues underlying its (possibly diverse) critical reception • Issues relating to theme, style and structure. • An appreciation of how one or more critical approaches applied by the candidate has enhanced understanding and appreciation of the chosen film.
To get an A...• Level 4 candidates will be distinguished by: – confident understanding – very detailed, accurate and precise reference to the film. – Effectively structured. – a clear and distinctive voice developing. – evidence of a high level of understanding of the film and film issues – coherent analysis of film & critical and contextual issues – excellent written communication – fluent, well-structured and accurate
Main issues / debates / themes / perspectives arising in Vertigo?• THEMES – identification – Obsession – misrecognition• VERTIGO’S CRITICAL RECEPTION – then (Sight & Sound & Variety reviews) – now (BFI top 10s / Obsessed with Vertigo / James Maxfield / Martin Rubin)• VERTIGO’S CANONICAL STATUS • Exemplifies achievements of studio system Hollywood film production • Mastering of film form - camerawork, editing, special effects, score and use of mise-en-scene • Complexity of narrative, plot and themes
Main issues / debates / themes / perspectives arising in Vertigo?• SIGNIFICANCE AS A HITCHCOCK FILM – Hitchcock as AUTEUR – USE OF LOCATIONS – RECURRING MOTIFS & SYMBOLS – SUCCESS OF THE FILM AS A THRILLER – PURE CINEMA and innovations in CINEMATOGRAPHY• REPRESENTATION OF GENDER – THE MALE GAZE – Gender roles (in wider society & in film itself) – Archetypes of Beauty – DOPPELGANDER – The Madeline / Judy split – Masculinity in crisis
Main issues / debates / themes / perspectives arising in Vertigo?• SPECTATORSHIP – The Spectator’s relationship to Scottie as Protagonist – NARRATIVE structure / plot devices• CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES / APPROACHES – Feminist & Post Feminist Theory (Psychoanalytical theories of Freud & Lacan) – Auteur Theory – Marxist Perspective
Hitchcock as auteur...• Extensive body of work• Considered by critics to have a signature style: – “a Hitchcock film” despite working with Studios• Signature style established using – film form – plot devices – use of characters – manipulation of audience• Genre focus – Exclusively crime, suspense, with comedy hybrids
A film about spectatorship• What is a spectatorship? – a person who sees or watches something without taking an active part – An onlooker• How does Vertigo address ideas about spectatorship? – Scottie becomes a spectator of Madeline’s supposed pshycological regression – We watch Scottie watch Madeline • Encouraged to identify with the protagonist – We watch Scottie’s increasingly obsessive behaviour and regression • Encouraged to passively watch the protagonist – breaks the bond of idenitifcation – We question our own role as spectator of a film – who are we looking at, why do we enjoy it?
Past exam questionsJan 2010• What does your chosen film reveal about the usefulness of one or more critical approaches you have applied?• Consider debates that have arisen in the critical reception of your chosen film, either at the time of its initial release or now or both.• Film scholars have argued that Vertigo is a film about cinema and about spectatorship. How far do you think this is true?June 2010• How useful has a particular critical approach been in gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of your chosen film?• Explain how your understanding of your chosen film has been influenced by critical debates.• What do you consider to be the important themes and ideas Hitchcock explores in Vertigo through the use of the Madeleine/Judy character?
Past exam questionsJan 2011• Explore some of the ways in which placing your chosen film within a broader critical framework has helped to develop your appreciation and understanding of specific sequences.• How far has critical debate about your chosen film shaped and altered your response?• Discuss the significance of the recurring image of the spiral in Vertigo.June 2011• Explore some of the ways in which you have gained fresh insights into your chosen film as a result of applying one or more specific critical approaches.• How important have been the responses of others, such as film reviewers, in influencing your own response to your chosen film?• Explore some of the ways in which Hitchcock attempts to manage the audience response to Scottie as the narrative of Vertigo unfolds.