Learning ObjectivesIntroduce ‘The Male Gaze’ theory Apply the Male Gaze theory to key scenes from VertigoEvaluate the use of the male gazetheory as a ‘critical debate’
Vertigo Exam QuestionsIn your exam you will be presented with a choice ofTHREE questions to answer for VertigoTwo questions with be generic and can be applied to allof the films available for studyYou will also be given ONE question that relatesSPECIFICALLY TO VERTIGO Section C Exam question – Summer 2010 “Explore some of the ways in which you have gained fresh insights into your chosen film as a result of applying one or more specific critical approaches”
Laura MulveyLaura Mulvey is a British Feminist Film Theoristfrom BritainShe is best known for her essay “VisualPleasure and the Narrative Cinema”Her essay is credited with the shift of filmanalysis from aesthetic and cultural to apsychological frameworkShe was heavily influenced by the psycho-analytical works of psychologists SigmundFreud and Jacques Lacan
Laura MulveyIn her essay Mulvey coined the phrase‘Male Gaze’Mulvey... “Sees the representation of women in film and literature (and therefore society in general) as being dominated by a male point of view. Herbelief is that the world is a patriarchy and that men have the ‘active’ roles and women ‘passive’”She believes that all audiences must vieweach film from the perspective of aheterosexual male
Laura MulveyMulvey states that the role of a femalecharacters in a narrative has two functions:1. As an erotic object for the characters within the story2. As an erotic object for the spectators within the auditorium • Do you think this is true of Vertigo? • How are the views of both characters and spectators joined throughout the film? • Why do you think Hitchcock does this? And is he successful?
The Male GazeMulvey states that our world is ordered by sexual imbalanceand pleasure in looking has been split in to the following:The characters that ‘Look at’ (Gaze) at othersare seen as the ‘active’ role – Male charactersThe characters that are ‘To be looked at’(gazed) are seen as the ’passive’ role – femalecharacters – and therefore under control ofthe male ‘gazer’As a result the male gazer projects his fantasy on to the femaleform which is styled according to his tastes.Women are simultaneously looked at, and displayed asa sexual object – they connote ‘to-be-looked-at-ness’
The Male GazeAnalyse the following scene and answerthe following questions:• In what ways can we apply the malegaze theory to this scene?• How are the male characters Active andthe female Passive• How is Madeleine’s to-be-looked-at-nessconstructed by Hitchcock?• How does Scotty fulfil the role of the‘gazer’?
The ‘Male Gaze’Traditionally in film history male charactersplay an active role and drive the narrativeforwards – they make things happenWomen generally play passive roles and areseen as erotic objects which slow thenarrative down – they inspire men to make Give examples from the Bellthings happen Tower Scene in which both ScottieMulvey states that films intend to reflect the & Elster are seenpsychical obsessions of the society that as activeproduced it – a patriarchal society and in which Madeleine is seen as passive
The Male GazeIn film male characters control narrativedevelopment – they are representative of power –they control the worldThey male protagonist is also the bearer of thegaze, and as a result the spectator identify with himmore and more as the narrative progresses – wesee this world through their eyes! How does theThe good looks and powerful position of the male character ofprotagonist is attractive to the spectator – he Madeleine slowrepresents the a more powerful, ideal ego - and we down theposition ourselves alongside or within those narrative speed ofcharacters as he gazes at the world and the people Vertigo?around him
The Male GazeMulvey argues that throughout a film the spectator is constantlyswitching between the role of spectator and the role of the gazer Watch the following scenes and note down the ways Hitchcock switches between these two positions Consider: • Shot types • Editing • Music
The Male GazeIn order for us to fully identify with the maleprotagonist we must be able to accept thecinematic world as a substitute for realityThe function of a film is to therefore reproduce asaccurately as it can, the so-called naturalconditions of human perceptionCamera movement, shot types and invisibleediting tend to blur the limits of screen spaceWe see the world as ‘real’ were this perfect maleor bearer of the gaze is free to look and createthe action
Socophilia Socophilia Literally means ‘Love of Watching’ Movie-making and movie-viewing have long been analysed as socophilic practices. We sit in a darkened movie theatre and observe the activities of people on the screen who are unaware that they are being watched (The term Socophilia derives from Freud’s study of the psyche)Socophilia and the gaze are key themes ofHitchcock’s work – especially in Vertigo. Themain characters are a detective (who watchesothers without their knowledge) and an actressof sorts (Judy/ Madeleine) whose role is to bewatched by Scotty
ObjectificationObjectification is related to the ‘gaze’The persons ‘gazed’ at are objectified – treated as anobject whose sole value is to be enjoyed or possessedby the voyeurObjectified characters are devalued and theirhumanity is removedHow is ‘Judy’ objectified throughout the following scene? Why does Scottie objectify her in this way?How can we relate this to the ‘castration complex’ & the male gaze?
Fetishism Fetishism The focusing of erotic desire on some inanimate object with sexual connotations, such as clothes, hair or particular body parts “the colour of Alternatively Fetishism involves over-valuing an your hair...” object that has little or no inherent valueCan you think of any examples of ‘Fetishism’ from Vertigo?Using your handouts from the previous lesson note “Whatever the down the ways in which Judy is ‘fetishised’ by gentleman Scottie in the following scenes wants...”
FetishismLaura Mulvey argued that “Scotty typifies the active gaze of the male spectator for whom the film industry manufactures movies. The male spectator fetishises female beauty as a way of defending against the anxiety brought about by the spectacle of women representing ‘lack’ of castration” As a result we can argue that the abyss Scottie looks in to at the beginning of the film, in Muvley’s view, symbolises the lack, andhe must fetishistically try to re-create the ideal women throughout the narrative of the film.His Vertigo can be seen as the symbolisation of this confrontation with the abyss of the feminine
FetishismWhere else in the film does Hitchcock represent the ‘abyss’? • Numerous ‘Vertigo’ shots • Scottie falling in to an open grave
Fetishism in Hitchcock Look at the female characters on your handout How are they similar? Why do you think this is?Hitchcock was known as a controlling director, particularly when itcame to women. His female characters reflected the same qualitiesover and over again. They were:• Blond• Icy and remote• They were imprisoned in costumes that subtly combined fashion withfetishism• They mesmerised their men, who often has psychological problems• Sooner or later, they were humiliated / killed
SummaryMulvey argued that we live in a patriarchal society in which menset the majority of rules and construct the an ideal visions ofwomenAs a result our culture and by extension, our media products(literature, film, TV, music etc...) reinforce the ideal construction ofwomenShe states: We are bound by a symbolic order in which man can live out his ‘phantasies’ and obsessions through linguistic command (cinematic codes: lighting, camera, editing etc) by imposing them on the silent image of woman still tied to her place as bearer of meaning, not maker of meaning
TaskWrite a short essay style answer to the followingquestion: “Explore some of the ways in which you have gained fresh insights into your chosen film as a result of applying one or more specific critical approaches” Consider everything you have learnt today Also include an analysis of at least ONE scene from Vertigo to support your points You think mark each others work using the marking scheme and give feedback and a grade