Sex and Love 1. What’s up with Lost Highway and Vertigo? What is Lost Highway about? What is Vertigo about? How are the two films related? 2. Complete Sex/Love According to Nagel, what constitutes complete sex ? When is sex incomplete , or perverse ?
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1. What’s up with Lost Highway and Vertigo?
What is Lost Highway about?
What is Vertigo about?
How are the two films related?
2. Complete Sex/Love
According to Nagel, what constitutes complete sex? When is sex incomplete, or perverse?
How can we extend Nagel’s discussion and develop a concept of complete love?
Comparison of Main Characters:
Vertigo Lost Highway
John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson Fred Madison/ Pete Dayton
Judy Barton/ Madeleine Elster Renee Madison/ Alice Wakefield
Gavin Elster Mr. Eddy/ Dick Laurent
Marjorie ‘Midge’ Wood Sheila
Plot Summary: “There’s no such thing as a bad coincidence.”
Part A: Man in ‘relationship’ with woman that is incomplete.
Trial: Man held accountable for woman’s death.
Part B: Man tries to recreate old relationship with ‘new’ woman.
Finale: Fusion of A and B; things turn out the same.
One woman becomes two, with distinct names, appearances
brunette = real (LH-love interest); blond = fake (V-love interest)
3rd woman with similar appearance to ‘love’ interest
Vertigo: Madeleine/Judy; John/Scottie; Marjorie/Midge
Highway: Renee/Alice; Fred/Pete; Mr. Eddy/Dick Laurent
Possession, fugue states: Madeleine/Carlotta; Fred/Pete
Memory loss: Madeleine; Pete
Person Jilted Lover of --- Death
Carlotta Valdez Unknown Suicide?
Madeleine Elster Gavin Murder?
Judy Barton Gavin, Scottie Accident?
acrophobia =df. an intense fear of heights
voyeurism =df. deriving (sexual) pleasure from watching rather than doing
Scottie’s undressing of Madeleine is “a form of necrophilia.” (Hitchcock)
Subconscious drives: obsession/delusion/paranoia
Madeleine’s amnesic fugues (memory loss, possession); “suicidal neurotic”
Scottie’s fantasies: “turning subjective experiences into objective ones”
Scottie’s obsession with Madeleine grows as does her obsession with death
Because of his obsession/love for Madeleine, Scottie has Judy change herself to become Madeleine
Scottie’s “acute melancholia together with a guilt complex”
Melancholia: “a mental condition characterized by extreme depression, bodily complaints, and often hallucinations and delusions; esp: a manic depressive psychosis”
reciprocal desire: “a complex psychological interchange constitutes the natural development of sexual attraction” (R: 12)
“. . . some version of this overlapping system of distinct sexual perceptions and interactions is the basic framework of any full-fledged sexual relation and that relations involving only part of the complex are significantly incomplete.” (R: 15)
Complete sex “involves a desire that one’s partner be aroused by the recognition of one’s desire that he or she be aroused.” (R: 15)
Examples of perverse acts (= incomplete acts):
narcissistic practices: masturbation
intercourse with animals or infants
intercourse with inanimate objects: necrophilia
sadism and masochism
voyeurism and exhibitionism
Madeleine: “I don’t like . . . that we might have to die.”
Concentric circles of redwood: cyclic vs. linear time
circles, spirals: vertigo, hair bun, redwood, staircase
Fatalism, destiny, eternal recurrence, necessity of the past
Scottie: “There’s a Chinese saying that once you save someone’s life, you’re responsible for it forever.”
Note theater scene from Twelve Monkeys (fatalism, etc.), and allusion to Vertigo (Kathryn changes hair color)
[Note also that the beginning of The Matrix is an allusion to the beginning of Vertigo.]
How does Scottie get down from the building? Why is he just ‘left hanging’? Is this a metaphor for something?
Why acrophobia? Is this a metaphor for something? (Scottie has a fear of falling . . . in love (a fear of commitment)!)
What is the significance of Madeleine’s loss of memory?
Who does Scottie love: Madeleine, Judy, or Carlotta? Is Scottie really in love? Is Judy? Why doesn’t Scottie love Midge?
What do the various references to circles and spirals mean?
Discuss some explicit examples of allusions to necrophilia and voyeurism in the film. Why are these ailments significant?
Scottie: “I didn’t know that you wanted to be taken home that way.”
[. . . so I decided to undress you at my house instead!]
Madeleine: “It’s too late. There’s something I have to do.”
Scottie: “There’s nothing you have to do. You’re not possessed by anyone.”
Judy: “What do you want?”
Scottie: “I just want to know who you are.”
Scottie: “There’s one final thing I have to do and then I’ll be free of the past. . . . I need you to be Madeleine for awhile and then we’ll both be free.”
Scottie: “I loved you so, Madeleine. . . . It’s too late. There’s no bringing her back.”
What is the point of the circular theme of the film?
Begins and ends with “Dick Laurent is dead!”
Film as a Moebius strip. (Lynch and Gifford)
What is significant about Pete’s memory loss? the video tapes? Pete’s parents?
Who is the Mystery Man?
What is the significance of the burning cabin in the desert? the Lost Highway Hotel? the picture of Renee (and Alice)?
What is significant about the following real-life actors who play characters in the film: Richard Prior, Gary Busey, Marilyn Manson, Henry Rollins, Robert Blake?
Fred: “I like to remember things my own way.”
Fred: “How did you get inside my house?”
Mystery Man: “You invited me.”
Sheila: “Why don’t you like me?”
Alice: “I was here earlier.”
Pete: “Yeah, I remember.”
Pete: “I killed him.”
Pete: “Are both of them you?”
Alice: “Don’t you trust me, Pete?”
Pete: “I want you! I want you!”
Alice: “You’ll never have me!”
Mystery Man: “Her name is ‘Alice’? What’s your name?”
James Stewart .... John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson
Kim Novak .... Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton
Barbara Bel Geddes .... Marjorie ‘Midge’ Wood
Tom Helmore .... Gavin Elster
Henry Jones (I) .... Coroner
Raymond Bailey .... Scottie’s Doctor
Ellen Corby .... Manageress of McKittrick Hotel
Konstantin Shayne .... Pop Leibel
Lee Patrick .... Older Mistaken Identification
Bill Pullman .... Fred Madison
Patricia Arquette .... Renee Madison/Alice Wakefield
Balthazar Getty .... Pete Dayton
Robert Blake .... Mystery Man
Natasha Gregson Wagner .... Sheila
Richard Pryor .... Arnie
Lucy Butler .... Candace Dayton
Michael Massee .... Andy
Jack Nance .... Phil
Jack Kehler .... Guard Johnny Mack
Henry Rollins .... Guard Henry
Giovanni Ribisi .... Steve ‘V’
Scott Coffey (I) .... Teddy
Gary Busey .... Bill Dayton
Robert Loggia .... Mr. Eddy/Dick Laurent