<i>Galleries of the Gaze: The Museum in Rossellini's</i> Viaggio in Italia <i>and Hitchcock's</i> Vertigo

Steven Jacobs

in Framing Pictures

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780748640171
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670901 | DOI:
Galleries of the Gaze: The Museum in Rossellini's Viaggio in Italia and Hitchcock's Vertigo

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This chapter deals with the museum scenes in Rossellini's Viaggio in Italia and Hitchcock's Vertigo. Both scenes call up associations that museums often evoke in feature films. Famous tourist attractions, the Naples Archaeological Museum and the San Francisco Palace of the Legion of Honor become uncanny places of fatal encounters, mystery and introspection. Museums are presented as mausoleums, in which spiritual and atavist powers are confining characters in their memories. Marked by a contemplative rhythm, which matches perfectly the solemn silence of classical museum spaces, both scenes show a remarkably modernist sensibility. The contemplation of artworks and the museum experience enable Rossellini and Hitchcock to investigate the cinematic representation of the act of looking by means of emphatic close-ups of faces, highly unusual juxtapositions of action and reaction shots and bravura camera movements. The appropriate place for the contemplative gaze, the museum becomes a perfect motif of cinematic self-reflection – a theme that also is introduced by the conscientious confrontation between the medium of film and those of painting or sculpture. In so doing, the museum scenes in Viaggio in Italia and Vertigo show striking similarities with new trends that appeared in the art documentaries discussed in the first chapter.

Keywords: Museum; Mausoleum; Museum in Film; Alfred Hitchcock; Roberto Rossellini; Vertigo; Viaggio in Italia; Gaze; Tourism; Cinematic Modernism

Chapter.  9666 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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