Vertigo Feminist Theory
It is very much active male and passive female. Madeline is there to be looked at, the soft focus, the romantic music, the green dress contrasting with the red interior of the restaurant. The Mis-En-Scene in the restaurant is crying out for Madeline to be an object of desire. In Hitchcock’s films the women often have a strong visual and erotic impact. It could be the nature of the film, that’s a whole different story but mostly talks about the women and also Madeline also in Vertigo. They have a ‘to be looked at’ ness.
They are there to be looked at basically. Laura Mulvey also talks about the idea of scopophilia which is looking at the sort of pleasure. It’s a Freudian term that he came up with. It basically talks about the pleasure gained from looking at desirable objects, the object been women. And it kind of takes on the whole boundary between male/female desire, kind of sort of thing going on there. In terms of Mulvey? They are also interested in the idea of fetishisation of women, in Vertigo in the opening scene we experience this.
Madeline or Judy is reduced to her lips and her eyes. They are very much objects of desire. Things that men look for in a woman. She is basically dismembered. Shes nothing else but her sexual attributes. Later on in the film when Scottie is trying to recreate Madeline through Judy, Scottie is very much constructing female ideal. Which he thinks is Madeline. Mulvey said male project their fantasy onto the female figure is styled accordingly.
Which is basically what scottie does with Judie. Much to devestation in the end of the film. Because it is unattainable, the fantasy that Scottie wants from a woman is unattainable. The other film theorist that I will introduce is Tania Modeleski she wrote the women who knew too much in 1988. And she kind of carried on this whole idea of Male active, female passive kind of thing but challenged Mulvey’s viewpoint in the sense she said that is was constructed from a patriarchal viewpoint.
It is very much black and white in male is active, female is passive where as Modeleski said that it is a lot more complex than that it doesn’t allow for a complex representation of women when you think of vertigo the second time that you watch it with the Ernies restaurant scene in the beginning you think well madeline actually knows that she is been watched by Scottie so it questions who is in control of the gaze when they know they are been looked at.
Obviously Madeline is acting in a certain way however she has the ghostly presense and knows that she is doing that. Complicates things which hitchcocks films are all about, they have many layers of representation and themes. Feminist view points applied to different films as well