August 13, 2009
ALFRED HITCHCOCK (1899-1980) was schooled in the genre conventions of the English Murder Mystery and the Hollywood Thriller, and his primary goal was always to entertain. A legendary control freak, he invented some of cinema’s most spectacular innovations: the landmark-as-backdrop of Saboteur and North By Northwest, the famous dolly shot in Vertigo, or the dizzying overhead perspectives of Psycho and Dial M For Murder. But for my money, his most notable contributions have been to high culture and modern philosophy. Hitch has enchanted thinkers as wide-ranging as François Truffaut and Slavoj Žižek; the poet Anne Carson has compared him to Euripides. One could scarcely imagine Baudrillard’s Simulacrum without Hitchcock’s painstakingly recreated street scenes. And what is Lacan’s petit objet a if not the ultimate MacGuffin?
READ MORE about members of the Modernist Generation (1884–93).