There is something weird and wonderful about looking at people on a flat surface (actors portraying characters on a film screen) that are themselves also gazing upon the painting of another character.
Anytime I watched such a scene in a movie, I found myself dreamily fascinated.
The painting seems to become alive, casting a mysterious spell over the characters. They become hunted and obsessed with the image, the portrait of a ghost, someone from the past, missing or dead, whose shadow falls heavy over the living. Other times the painting represents, man or woman, the unattainable object of desire. The infatuation with the picture becomes so sexually charged that pushes the character to the verge of insanity. A brief glance at a portrait can have dangerous consequences. Better be careful next time we visit a gallery...
Rebecca (1940). Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
Citizen Kane (1941). Dir. Orson Welles
The Woman in the Window (1944) Dir. Fritz Lang
Laura (1944) Dir. Otto Preminger
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) Dir. Albert Lewin
Vertigo (1958) Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
The Trial (1962) Dir. Orson Welles
Bocaccio ’70 (segment "Le tentazioni del dottor Antonio") (1962). Dir. Federico Fellini
Donovan's Reef (1963) Dir. John Ford
Dressed to Kill (1980) Dir. Brian De Palma
Venus (2006) Dir. Roger Michell