Hitchcock and the Heterotopic
In 1967 the French philosopher, Michel Foucault, presented a lecture with the title, “Of Other Spaces,” to a small group of architects, and thereby made known his understanding of the term “heterotopia” initially and briefly introduced in The Order of Things. In the past decade there has been considerable renewed interest in Foucault’s work, and a renewed interest in this obscure and complex notion of ‘other’ spaces. One example he gives, among many, is that of cinematic space, as well as the space of the cinema. This paper aims to explore aspects of Foucault’s thinking as it might apply to cinema, with particular emphasis on relations developed in his work on power, space and knowledge. The cinema of Hitchcock is particularly apt for such an engagement, not simply because Hitchcock has a rich and complex engagement with spatiality and pathologies, or an ‘otherness’ of spatially defined norms. More so than cinematic depictions of the heterotopic is Hitchcock’s distilled understanding of the spatiality of power’s exercise in producing the ‘true’ and in speaking the true. Thus, with so many plots in Hitchcock, the driving force of a cinematic narrative and mise en scene concerns implicit relations between power, knowledge and space. The paper will engage a number of Hitchcock films, including The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934/1956); Rope (1948); Vertigo (1958); and North By Northwest (1959).
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