Vertigo Analysis Narrative Elements Essay

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Vertigo Analysis

Narrative Elements of Vertigo

Vertigo is at its surface a noir film in which the themes of duality are a driving factor of the film's narrative. In the film, the protagonist and femme fatale are dual forces, much like perception and deception. Film noir has been described as "murder with a psychological twist," a descriptor that encompasses the narrative theme of the film (Spicer 1). In Vertigo, the protagonist must overcome psychological traumatization that is induced through perception in order to uncover the truth behind Madeleine Elster's "suicide."Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on Vertigo Analysis Narrative Elements of Vertigo Is Assignment

The term film noir was first used by Nino Frank to describe four crime films -- the Maltese Falcon (1941), Murder My Sweet (1944), Double Indemnity (1944), and Laura (1944) -- that shared a common "iconography, visual style, narrative strategy, subject matter and characterization" (4). Traditionally, film noir made use of a criminal investigation as a catalyst for interaction between the hard-boiled detective and the femme fatale (Borde & Chaumeton 7). In film noir, the contradicting natures of the hard-boiled detective and the femme fatale greatly influence how the characters behave. The hard-boiled detective usually becomes "an inglorious victim who undergoes…some appalling beatings" (9). In the case of Scottie, his beatings are both physical and psychological. In Vertigo, John "Scottie" Scottie fulfills the role of the detective even though he has officially retired from the police force and is investigating Madeleine Elster at the request of his acquaintance, Gavin Elster. At the beginning of the film, Scottie is shown to be injured and forced to wear a back brace in addition to having to deal with his acrophobia, a fear of heights, which Gavin exploits in an attempt to get away with murder. Scottie's acrophobia is brought on after watching his partner plummet to his death while in pursuit of a suspect. The femme fatale, Judy Barton -- who is also impersonating Madeleine Elster, must suffer the consequences of her involvement in the plot to deceive Scottie. In film noir, the femme fatale does not survive the scheme in which she is involved in and proves to be "fatal unto herself" (9). In Vertigo, Judy fulfills the role of femme fatale and is complicit in the death of the real Madeleine; when she finally confesses her crimes to Scottie, who gradually overcomes his acrophobia and by the end of the film is able to ascend to the top of a bell tower, an unforeseen accident causes Judy to trip and fall from the tower, resulting in the fulfillment of the femme fatale role.

Two contradicting and complementary themes within the film are the subject of perception and the subject of deception. In Vertigo, "Hitchcock uses subjective shots of Scottie's petrified gaze down at the horrifying drop to the street below to create a scene of psychological trauma (Spicer 81). This trauma makes… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Vertigo Analysis Narrative Elements" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Vertigo Analysis Narrative Elements.  (2012, April 22).  Retrieved October 25, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Vertigo Analysis Narrative Elements."  22 April 2012.  Web.  25 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Vertigo Analysis Narrative Elements."  April 22, 2012.  Accessed October 25, 2021.