The therapeutic power of music in Hitchcock’s films
in Partners in suspense
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In Vertigo, we have a sobering dramatization of the limits of music therapy – as Midge says sadly, Mozart isn't going to help very much when it comes to some life crises – but in several other Hitchcock films, the composition and performance of music are specifically linked to the resolution of very serious personal and interpersonal challenges and dilemmas, and can not only change or shape but save a relationship and a life. This chapter’s two key examples are Waltzes from Vienna and Rear Window, and it connects their presentation of the therapeutic function of music to Hitchcock's consistent "thematization" of music, that is to say, the extent to which his films not only utilize but are about music (a vital but often neglected aspect of the study of the relationship between film and music, in Hitchcock’s films and elsewhere) and also relates his presentation of the therapeutic use of music to several films in particular by one of his major influences, D.W. Griffith. Pippa Passes and Home Sweet Home provide models that Hitchcock made good use of in his dramatizations of the far-reaching redemptive power of music.

Partners in suspense

Critical essays on Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Hitchcock


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