Alfred Hitchcock’s film Vertigo (1958) has attracted the interest of classical reception scholars because of its adaptation of Ovid’s Pygmalion myth. Scottie, the film’s main character, has been interpreted as a re-enactment of Pygmalion, a character in the Metamorphoses who sculpted his ideal woman out of ivory. In this article, the idea of a direct line of reception from Ovid to Hitchcock is challenged. Rather, the principal model of the film is identified as George Bernard Shaw’s drama Pygmalion (1913). However, Ovid’s Pygmalion story does constitute a model for the film as well, though it does so on a more indirect level. In fact, all the film’s main characters display Ovidian traits. These add an extra layer of meaning to the understanding of the film and the complexity of its characters, and allow for an unexpected re-interpretation of Scottie and his desires.
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