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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Intertextuality in Film

Intertextuality in a film is the referencing of visual content with that of another film. Simply, it is responding to something that's been done, by 'borrowing' it. This can be observed in in the example of Psycho (1960) - to be precise, the well-known shower scene - that has influenced many a film, including The Stepfather (2009). Like Psycho, many of Hitchcock's films have been influential due to their landmark nature in the history of modern film.

We saw intertextuality in action through the films Fatal Attraction (1987), The Stepfather (2009) and What Lies Beneath (2000), as well as the student thriller opening Succubus (courtesy of Hurtwood House School).

Immediately we recognise the obvious references to Psycho: use of knife in all examples but What Lies Beneath, the bathroom setting of all but Fatal Attraction, etc. The most interesting I found was the pull of the shower curtain in The Stepfather, especially since in this film the victim is the antagonist. In the student film Succubus, the inter-cutting of the brutal stabbing motions also paid tribute to Psycho. In neither of the scenes do we see the blade make contact with the victim, yet the choice of fast-paced shots combined with startling sound effects portray the violence in a much more realistic and shocking way than if the scene was filmed explicitly. It is this 'borrowing' that is used to great effect to create a standout scene in what otherwise is an unexciting thriller opening.

The Stepfather
Fatal Attraction

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