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The main objective of this paper is to discuss emotional problems of the main character, Scottie Templeton, based on their cinematic disclosure in the psychological thriller of Alfred Hitchcock, Vertigo (1958). The film includes many echoing elements, which repeat and represent the effect of vertigo. The metaphorical element of vertigo is represented through visual and mental elements in the film. Scottie’s acrophobia, the places visited by Scottie Fergusson and Madeleine Elster and the resemblance between Madeleine and Judy are the visual elements which define vertigo. The mental elements are represented by the Scottie’s dream of Madeleine, spiral is represented by the repetition of Madeleine’s storyline by Scottie, and, finally, the cycle of the film is represented by a mental flashback of the fall. Together these elements impact on emotional and physical state of the protagonist, emphasizing the meaning of vertigo in the picture. Based on the final episode, where Scottie finally gets cured of his fear of heights, acrophobia, it can be proved that the name of the Vertigo is a mental metaphor of the life sequence of Scottie Fergusson, which represents his emotional state by shaping the elements of his surrounding he chooses to notice due to his illness.
The emotional elements of the film construct the character by leading him through traumatizing events that transform him from protagonist, victim of a fraud, into an antagonist, a killer of a person, which embodies painful memories in order to set himself free and get “cured” in all meanings. In the final episode both emotional and physical elements take place to represent this transformation. In this scene, Scottie tries to repeat the episode with Madeleine, where she runs up the tower and commits suicide by throwing herself down from the top of the building. He has found out that Judy is Madeleine and the suicide is set up. After that Scottie tries to control the situation by climbing up the stairs to the top, overcoming his acrophobia and not minding the spacious vertigo he sees. He keeps going up, reproaching Judy her lies and concealing the real facts of the situation. Soon he finds out the details of the real crime and lets Madeleine fall from the tower, but this time for real. The film did not explain whether he got rid of what he believed he would.
First, Scottie, when going up the ladder, constantly undergoes through a challenge of vertigo in his eyes. Going in a spiral direction he feels nauseous and dizzy. Such a feeling repeats itself overall in the film. We can also trace the parallel with the episode at the beginning of the film, when the policeman fell of the roof, in the dream about Madeleine, and almost every time Scottie sees the heights. The fear of heights is concealed in the pangs of the conscience. It represents the protagonist’s fear of commitment to what is being done. However, the arguing in the tower about the true facts, which make him innocent, give Scottie enough strength to go all the way to the top.
Second, Scottie is shown in a film as a romantic, subtle, delicate, calm gentleman, who further transforms into a wild, angry man. Scottie is obsessed by Madeleine, but being betrayed by her, he now wants to get rid of everything that somehow reminds of Madeleine. With every step he takes, he gains strength and confidence in himself. Enriched by love, madness and anger, he overcomes his fear and now has his beloved Madeleine in his hands. However, the sudden appearance of the nun breaks this euphoria by making Madeleine fall and setting a flashback of the beginning of the film, finishing it by the last loop of the spiral of the vertigo and setting everything back on its place.
Finally, the loops of the ladders, which Scottie and Madeleine climb together, are the metaphorical representations of their storylines, which also were going in vertiginous loops. Madeleine has been repeating the life of Carlotta. As for Scottie, he was trying to undergo through the same emotional experience by visiting the same places as Madeleine did. The situation with the setup of Madeleine’s suicide then was repeated by Scottie and Judy. This movement in the motion picture sets a vertiginous mood, which fashions a cycle of events that resemble each other in their repetition.
To summarize, the plot of the film has a cyclical character, which is envisioned though the elements that set the effect of vertigo not only to the protagonist’s emotional state of mind, but also to the viewer’s. The cyclical sequence of events is presented throughout the film starting from the fall of the officer at the beginning and ending by the fall of Madeleine, embracing repetition throughout the motion picture, affecting Scottie in many ways and shaping his behavior.
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