Boy meets girl, boy loses girl. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl.

We see the film Vertigo through the lense in which Hitchcock sets up for us, now whether that lense is underlyingly sexist or not is obvious, but we still are unsure as to what sort of message he is sending. As Robert mentioned in his seminar, Hitchcock’s summary of the film is rather straightforward: “boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and boy meets girl, boy loses girl”. This leaves us with two ways to view it: simply, or critically. The simple view is the literal romance story of a man, Scottie, who falls in love with a woman named Madeline. He tragically loses her and has no way to get over it except for recreating her through Judy. Scottie isn’t creepy, he just misses Madeline and is reminded of her through Judy.

While from the critical perspective, Vertigo is problematic on multiple levels, some far too deep for me to understand from viewing it only once. For starters, despite the common role of women during this time in America, the film is undeniably sexist. The film centers around Scottie’s obsession with the ‘ideal’ woman, and how he fetishizes the qualities that make her appear so beautiful him. Judy is objectified to the extent that she is forced to change the way she looks to please Scotty. He knows he is entitled to Judy and the worst part is that she does too. This film really is the epitome of patriarchy.

I read Mulvey’s article before I watched the film, so I was prepared for roughly two hours of cringe worthy sexism. While the article was quite dense, it did help me catch aspects of the film I would not have been able to grasp otherwise. Never would I have ever thought about Scotty’s obsession with ‘solving’ Madeline has anything to do with castration anxiety. There is no possible way to view “Vertigo” in from a simple perspective after reading what Mulvey has to say about it. Regardless of her feminist opinion, I was quivering while watching Scotty was with Judy forcing her to wear the same dress Madeline did. The story could not have been a love story like Hitchcock suggested, as the plot is everything but romantic; yet somehow Judy still falls in love with him. I’m not sure how anyone is able to enjoy this film when females are portrayed in this objectified manner. And the creepiest part is how realistic and normal seems…

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