Apr
23

Hitchcock the Puppetmaster

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by btrachtenberg100 on 23-04-2010

As far as psychological features go “Vertigo”, takes the cake as it depicts the failure of the male machismo. The film is essentially divided into two parts in the first part; Scotty is not in control of his life as indicated by the films title. He is passive, mostly watching or being manipulated by Kim Novak. The second half is about the creative obsession that comes with loss and the endeavor to compensate for the previous lack of control, in essence to rectify the betrayal of his masculine nature. Interestingly the film also seems to work in the Hitchcock cannon because it also displays the director’s obsessive use of blondes in his films. This reflexive implementation of this duality is reflected in the two act structure of the film that is layered with Freudian theory. The idea of repressed memories as in the past life that Kim Novak experiences is found throughout as with the repressed feelings that Midge experiences for Scotty. The idea that a complex evolves out of unresolved issues plays in direct relation to the films style. The opening of the film ends with Scotty on the ledge that opens him up to his acrophobia. The end of the film bears a similar feeling as Scotty is left standing on the ledge of the bell tower, creating another chasm, and the budding of more psychological torment.
Tania Madleski makes a good point by showing the way in which the film depicts the way in which man tries to sustain a sense of himself that necessitates the end of woman. What more evidence than the end of the film where Scotty stares off the edge of the clock tower cured of his disorder because he has destroyed the woman who reinforced and capitalized on his lack of control? From the begining of the film we see the feminine ideal slowly disappear. It starts with the death of Madeline, the image of femininity. Then at the midpoint of the film, Midge disappears, as she represents the aspect of female love and obsession. The end of the film signifies the death of the physical body itself as a gateway to reaffirmation of Scotty’s masculinity.
Another interesting point is that of Scotty not being upset at the revelation of the truth but the fact that another man had trained her to perform for him, just as he trained her to be Madeline in the second half. This conflict seems to be present without the actual presence of another man, giving a very paranoid feeling, and underlying creepiness to Scotty’s behavior. This thematic aspect is illustrated through the use of colors, prevalently green. Madeline wore a green dress the first time Scotty saw her, and in the hotel room where she feels conflicted in terms of her obligation to Scotty, she is lit much like an actor during a monologue having the green light from the hotels neon sign illuminate half her face.
On a side note. I feel it’s ironic that the film deals with the issue of control and sets characters as though they were puppets led along by an invisible puppeteer. The film itself is beautifully scored by Bernard Herrmann is a very manipulative theme, that controls the felling of the audience as we follow Scotty descend into madness. I feel this point is made perfectly clear in the dream sequence where Scotty is a disembodied head and the score swells to accompany this nightmare where he is further stripped of his masculinity, with the cartoon image of dissipating flowers and the grave Madeline initially saw herself in, expressing her fear for a loss of her own identity and not being in control of her own destiny. These elements reflect the manipulative nature of film and Hitchcock’s ability to manipulate the audience through the revealing of knowledge selectively to the audience as well as the protagonists.

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1 Comment So Far

richie on 7 May, 2010 at 11:49 am #
    

I find it rather interesting how you described this film’s character’s as puppets instead, of humans. It’s a great twist to a great film, Hitchock always had clever techniques to manipulating the audience, having us feel the fear and paranoia that Scottie felt. In each film, Hitchcock was always two steps ahead, wanting a new reaction from the audience. Just like the twist in “Psycho”, who would gave thought back in 1960 that the killer would have been Norman Bates {Anthony Perkins}.


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