This essay considers the recurring problem of plot alternatives in Alfred Hitchcock, of powerful shadow scenes that overwhelm the manifest plot and demand a critical account of their own. Confronting such shadow scenes, the viewer takes up a social position in a long chain of failed hospitality, a position that unleashes fully the uncanny effects of intellectual uncertainty, as can be seen in a reading of the bedroom scene in Strangers on a Train. But it is when Hitchcock's moving camera seeks hospitality in its own right that the full implications of this viewing position start to become apparent. When, for instance, a recurring ghostly tracking shot insistently links Rebecca and Rope in defiance of a general critical segregation, it becomes necessary to retest the boundaries of character and diegesis on which criticism habitually relies. Taking up residence between and beyond his films, Hitchcock's most powerful ghosts haunt our very procedures for securing intelligibility.
Ned Schantz; Hospitality and the Unsettled Viewer: Hitchcock's Shadow Scenes. Camera Obscura 1 May 2010; 25 (1 (73)): 1–27. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-2009-013
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