Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” 17 Jan. 2007. Brown Wiki.
Laura Mulvey uses psychoanalysis to highlight the ways in which film reveals society’s view on sexual differences and desires. The paper explores the structured implementation of phallocentric themes which acknowledge the dominance of the male gender. Such an argument is centered around the image of a castrated woman. Mulvey states that “woman's desire is subjected to her image as bearer of the bleeding wound, she can exist only in relation to castration and cannot transcend it.” Without the male reproductive organ, the woman is at a loss. The sole meaning for a woman is to signify the existence of the better male version. Deriving their meaning solely from males, women passively submit themselves to the wants and obsessions of the imposing male. By analyzing this concept, Mulvey believes that feminists can find the true roots of female oppression. The paper explains that the magic of Hollywood is derived from its manipulation of visual pleasure. The article discusses the integration of erotic themes in film and the meaning of such undertones.
Mulvey discusses the way that the male looks at the female in Vertigo. Scottie looks at Madeleine in a way that fluctuates between “voyeurism and fetishistic fascination.” Scottie’s desire to remake his lost love and Judy’s willingness to do so, is an example of his dominance over her. Through the use of camera techniques, Hitchcock allows the viewer to take Scottie’s perspective and thus take on his position. The paper relates Scottie’s drive to reconstruct Madeleine to a fetish. As a woman, Judy knows that her role is to submit, and realizes that such a role is necessary to retain his erotic interest in her.
This paper affirms the feminist belief that Hollywood seeks to affirm male dominance by integrating it into its films. The oppressive manner in which men look at women, the “male gaze,” can be demonstrated through point of view shots. By making Madeleine the object of the camera’s desire (Scottie’s), the audience also experiences the possession. The paper is important as it serves as an example of feminist reaction to Hitchcock’s film.