Vertigo 2 Essay, Research Paper
Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most well known directors of all time, bringing murder and mystery to a new light. His films, starting in 1925 with Pleasure Garden and ending in 1976 with the film Fantasy Plot, set a precedent for all other directors in the film industry. Hitchcock came to be known as the Master of Suspense. Many story lines and techniques within his cinematography are common standards for films today. His film The Lodger, is a film that came to be an ideal example of a classic Hitchcock plot. Each plot presents an innocent man accused of a crime he did not commit. Through a web of mystery, danger, action, and of course love, he must find the true criminal. This plot came to be used in many of Hitchcock s films including Vertigo. Vertigo catches the viewer s attention with love, murder, and suspense. Everyone has a phobia of some kind whether it is spiders, darkness, or enclosed spaces. Vertigo is movie that deals with a fear of heights. The main character Scottie must cure himself of his melancholia, so he can go on living a normal life. Vertigo is one of Alfred Hitchcock s films that explores gender issues, such as man as a possessor, shows the weakness of women and men, and discusses moral issues.
First of all, Hitchcock depicts man as a possessor in this film. Everything is seen through the main character, Scottie s, eyes. Laura Mulvey says the film is, cut to the measure of male desire. There is only one scene when Judy flashes back to the murder that is not seen through Scottie s point of view. Everything seems to be centered on him and what he thinks. The view is always from inside of Scottie s car, either from his point of view or a reaction shot. Madeleine and Scottie are never seen in the same scene together. There is always a shot of him, or of him looking at her. I think that Hitchcock does this because he wants the viewer to realize that the film is going to be dominated by Scottie and revolve around his drama.
Scottie is also seen as a possessor in this film because of the way he tries to take care of Madeleine so she will fall in love with him. He was supposed to follow her around, because she could be possessed. The depressed picturesque Madeleine fascinates him, and he follows her wherever she goes, becoming more involved. His chase is his mission in finding out the truth. She says, If I m mad, that would explain everything. Scottie doesn t believe that she is mad and searches for reasons of her strange behavior. Every time she tries to run away, he grabs her, and holds her tightly. I agree with Mulvey that he is trying to convince Madeleine of her sanity so he could convince him of his own. Scottie wants complete control of the situation, but he can t unless he can explain Madeleine s bizarre actions. He also tries to control her by telling her There s an old Chinese saying that once you rescue a person s life, you re responsible for them forever. He tells her this, because he wants her to feel safe with him, and he will take care of her as long as she needs him. Right before he said that, she says, If you lose me, then you ll know I loved you and I wanted to go on loving you. Scottie was scared that she was going to kill herself, and he was going to do everything in his power to keep her. He wanted to gain control of the situation and to dominate over her.
Man is also shown as a possessor in the scene when Midge is sketching a brassiere. She explains that it is something revolutionary, designed by an airplane pilot. This then contributes to one of the main themes, man designs a woman, and a man designs a bra. The whole idea of reincarnation is fascinating. The way that Scottie remakes his former love is like the movie Can t Buy Me Love. His fetish with Madeleine is so extreme that he tries to buy Judy the same outfits that his former love wore. He will only love her if she is the way that he wants her to be. The sales clerk even pointed out twice the gentleman knows what he wants. He was also possessed with restaging the acts of administering brandy. Scottie demanded, Here, drink it straight down, just like medicine. He wanted her to drink it down the same way Madeleine did. He even went to the extreme of making her sit by the fire. He wanted her to sink down in the exact same position as she did before. With this act of manipulation, Scottie feels like he has control of her and the situation. His fetish becomes worse later on in the story when he makes her dye her hair the same color it was before and even wear it the same style. She obviously wants him to love her for herself and not because she was Madeleine. This explains why she resisted so much. I do not think this helped Scotties condition. In fact, it made it worse. He is fooling himself, because he has materialized his obsession with the image of Madeleine.
Hitchcock also shows man as a possessor, because he uses a lot of shots of Scottie only. Scottie s mad dream as depicted by the animated sequence begins with a close-up of Scottie s face and him falling on to the roof. It then moves into Madeleine s bouquet, with an extreme close up of Carlotta s necklace in the portrait. I agree with Mulvey that Scottie is living Madeleine s hallucination. Hitchcock is using foreshadowing to what will come. The silhouette of Scottie falling on the roof is the same image of Madeleine falling to the roof, and the same image of Judy plunging to her death at the end of the movie. The foreshadowing of the flower and necklace could be looked upon as Scottie s subconscious level. He envisions the necklace that will eventually be the proof that he needs to prove that Judy acted as Madeleine, who supposedly plunged to her death.
Next, Hitchcock shows that woman is weak in the movie. He reveals this through Judy s weakness. Judy lets Scottie construct her as an object of male desire and male design . Madeleine, who of course is really Judy, is shown as weak, because she cannot tell Scottie the truth about herself, or how she is about to ruin his life. The inevitability of Judy s death is made clear in the bell tower finale. Judy confesses that she stayed and let Scottie remake her into Madeleine because she loved him. Judy is shown as a weak character because she gives into whatever Scottie says. Scottie says, I loved you so, Madeleine. Judy goes to him desperately and says, Help keep me safe. Scottie pushes her back and responds, It s too late. There s no bringing her back. Judy is so upset that she could never recover what she had before with him. She does not know how to respond, and since she is such a weak character, the nun present at Judy s death causes her to freak and jump the same way Madeleine had supposedly done before. I believe that she jumps, because she has no self-confidence and will jump at any sign of conflict.
Not only is woman shown as weak, but man also is seen as weak. A rarely mentioned, but highly disturbing issue this film raises is moral issues. Scottie, the honest cop entrusted by his old friend Elster to look after his endangered wife Madeleine, betrays the friend by falling in love with the woman he s supposed to be protecting. He then disregards his new found love, Judy as a person, and in his obsession to remake her into Madeleine, changes her every way until he s accomplished his metamorphosis.
Midge is also seen as weak because she enviously spies on Scottie s secret obsession with Madeleine, and practically mocks him with her satirical self-portrait old fashioned Carlotta. After Scottie is appalled by what she had done, she crosses out her face and throws her paintbrush out the window. Her weak character is shown, because she cannot handle that Scottie does not feel the same way as before, and he has fallen in love with another woman.
Elster, the ringmaster of the whole charade, is portrayed as a sympathetic and admirable person in the beginning. He supposedly cares about his wife, and tries to solve the problem of her mystery outings. Yet the whole time, he knew of Scottie s illness and was going to use that against him to frame him in murder. Moreover, Scottie, Madeleine, and Midge were all decent characters caught up in a game that was created by Elster s selfish behavior.
The movie Vertigo is a suspenseful film captures the weaknesses of both women and men and explores reactions of both genders to various life situations. Hitchcock successfully keeps the viewers attention with all the twists and turns throughout the 128-minute film. Vertigo is a Hitchcock masterpiece that transcends time in the exploration of human nature and is a classic, which will continually be watched.