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? How can we extend Nagel’s discussion and develop a concept of complete love?
Vertigo and Lost Highway 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.
Identity Issues in Vertigo and Lost Highway 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 Dual names/identities: 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
Comparison of Women in Vertigo: Person Jilted Lover of --- Death Carlotta Valdez Unknown Suicide? Madeleine Elster Gavin Murder? Judy Barton Gavin, Scottie Accident?
Psychological Ailments in Vertigo 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)
Psychological Ailments in Vertigo, cont. 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”
Thomas Nagel, “Sexual Perversion” 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
Time and Fate: The Redwoods Scene 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.]
Questions about 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?
Comment on these passages from Vertigo 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.”
Questions about Lost Highway 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?
Comment on these passages from Lost Highway 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?”
Vertigo (1958) 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
Lost Highway (1997) 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