A Psychological Analysis Of A Thriller Film, Vertigo

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Vertigo is a thriller film produced by Alfred Hitchcock in 1958... Define spectacle, who coined it? The film’s main protagonist, John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson, is a detective impaired with a severe acrophobia that the entire plot revolves around. This paper argues that Madeleine and Judy function more than just simple female characters placed in the film to drive the plot. Rather, they are objects of desire for the male gaze of both Scottie and the Spectator, to serve and to be punished to feed the male ego. This essay will look at Judy’s and Madeleine’s relationship with Scottie and the viewer from a psychoanalytic perspective, using theories from psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan, and film theorist Laura Mulvey. Judy and Madeleine…show more content…
Scottie is characterized by lack and impotency; he lacks the mastery over his body because of his fear of heights, and this causes him great inconvenience in his job. He spends the entire film trying to regain that mastery, and uses Madeleine to help him attain his objective. Scottie sees saving Madeleine as symbolic of his complete, potent self. Borrowing from Lacan’s theory of ‘lack’, in which he states that ‘lack’ is central to the human psyche, it is implied that Madeleine is the imago – the ideal ‘I’, and the illusory quest to perfection – that Scottie will continue to desire to the extent that it will characterize his subsequent actions. (cite) Scottie thus develops a narcissistic relationship with Madeleine in so far that saving her reflects the fantastical hero figure he wants to emulate in compensation for his initial failure. Scottie’s persistent striving for Madeleine as his imago suggests his desire to overcome that ‘lack’ established since the beginning of the film and to achieve perfection. Madeleine thus serves as his portal for self-gratification. After his failure to save a policeman at the beginning of the film due to his acrophobia, he acts as Madeleine’s psychoanalyst and tries to save her in order to redeem himself as a protector. However this results in counter-transference, which Freud explains…show more content…
how does it link again?) Ultimately, despite his desperate attempts, Madeleine remains unattainable and Scottie is forced to come to terms with reality, which is the unchangeable truth that the ideal ‘I’ cannot be attained. When Judy reveals herself at the end of the film, Scottie realizes his misrecognition and that Madeleine was simply an illusion all along. He thus rejects Judy and in doing so, cures his vertigo and pushes her off the bell tower. Elaboration. So? How does it link back to the overall thesis? Judy’s death differs from Madeleine’s in the fact that her death functions in such a way that it causes Scottie to lose the “fascinating dimensions of loss, that which captivates his desire”. (Zizek 86) In revealing that she has been acting as Madeleine all along, she becomes a normal woman who loses her fantastical element that had greatly shaped Scottie’s character. Scottie loses his ideal ‘I’ just as he realizes that Madeleine never existed from the start; his hero fantasy is uncovered to be an illusion and his acrophobia disappears such that he is able to look down from the bell tower at Judy’s body. Elaboration. So? How does it link back to the overall

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