Jake's Arts One Blog

What you read when there's nothing on T.V.

Scottie in Vertigo

Okay, so as far as I can tell everyone seems to watch Vertigo and view the character of Scottie as an overbearing man who forces Judy to alter herself to fit his own desires. Now, while he does force Judy to change her appearance considerably, I don’t think that the film can be looked at as simply a controlling man who makes a woman submit to his wishes.

First of all, the way it was discussed in lecture made it seem like Scottie had a particular fetish or obsession with the physical image of Madeleine and that he would try and change any woman in order to fit that image. However, this is not the case. Scottie had an obsession with changing Judy, not because she was a submissive woman, but because she was Madeleine. I’m guessing quite a few people would have an obsession if they saw a person who they loved die, then a year later, saw the same exact person with a different hair colour. It might nag at you a bit.

Secondly, I believe we’re forgetting that Scottie was a former detective, you know, the people that solve mysteries (such as meeting the brunette version of a supposedly dead woman). At the end of the film Scottie remarks that the one thing about Madeleine’s death that bothered him was that she screamed when she fell. He couldn’t understand why. This little detail is the kind of thing that would lie in the back of someone’s mind, and, whether they know it or not, drive them to find an answer. I would even go as far as to say that I don’t think Scottie ever truly believed Madeleine was dead, though this may have been a subconscious thought.

Finally, I think there’s much more to Judy than a passive woman. Although you could say she was controlled by Scottie and forced to change herself, at the end of the day she was perfectly capable of refusing his requests. The real reason Judy changed is because she wanted to be with Scottie since she loved him. She was in control of her own actions and at anytime could’ve chosen to distance herself from Scottie but instead changes in the hopes that she can reconnect with him and they can live out a version of a happily ever after.

Thus I pose this question: is Scottie really a controlling man who forces a passive woman to submit to his desires, or is he simply a detective investigating an unsolved case that he has a personal stake in?

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