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So you listened to part 1, did you, and you've let the suspense build? You heard and maybe read (in the episode description) the hints of Jacques Lacan and existentialism, but will a coherent analysis come together? Will you get a clear idea of what it means to say that "there is no sexual relationship" and know whether the depiction of sexuality in the film should really apply to YOU or just to that weirdo Jimmy Stewart?
Here we present to you a few audio tidbits to tempt your tummy, whet your whistle, tease your testes (or ovaries, as applicable), and fondle your fondue.
The complete discussion is available for a mere $1 on our feed at patreon.com/partiallyexaminedlife or for $5 (which includes a crapload more audio that you probably haven't heard yet) on the PEL Citizen Feed (that exact episode is here), or install the full Citizen feed on your mobile device following directions here.
Jennifer Tejada says
You guys have these amazing, almost aside type, soliloquies at the end of certain episodes about feminism and I feel like I’ve heard them in several different episodes. I listened to the one episode on feminism – Herstory – which didn’t feel like a discussion of feminism at all! I keep wanting more! Can you PLEASE have an episode where you go all in on feminism? Please don’t feel the need to bring in a feminist! Or a woman! We listen to you to hear YOUR opinions/take on things. I’m just interested to hear a conversation that is less binary than the sort of crappola I hear all the time when I listen to people debate about feminist ideas. I imagine you guys might have something cool to say that doesn’t go on and on about patriarchy vs man haters. My guess is that there is a lot more richness and nuance to feminist ideas worth hearing about. You guys are the kings of that – sorting through all the tough reading and bringing us the good bits.
Jennifer Tejada says
I loved the movie. I actually didn’t stop and go watch when Wes ordered me to. I listened first and was so intrigued by the messages you took away that I went and watched it after and listened again. As a person without all that background knowledge, I felt that there were definite themes that were very clear, but I missed or would have missed much of the subtleties. What I saw was a person, Scotty, who was down and out and without a clear sense of self without his job. He falls in love with Madeline because of her sort of needy and helpless nature. He “rescues” her from the bay and it seems clear to me that she is in this vulnerable and confused state which makes her all the more appealing to a guy who wants to feel like he has some sense of purpose in the world. I thought him getting vertigo when he was hanging on in the most needy of ways to be an obvious symbol for his struggle with his own vulnerability but maybe I’m projecting. It also seemed interesting that his vulnerability resulted in the death of this cop, this very clear parental figure. His relationship with Midge was, to me, the most real of all the relationships. She knew the vulnerability within him and he, instead of being able to love that person in the way you love romantically, he turned her into a maternal figure and therefore kept her at arms length. Midge was the most interesting character of all to me. Wise enough to know that she can’t really have what she wants with him, but clearly struggling to let go and move on. I wonder if this is what people mean when they say “daddy issues”. I can so relate. And the way she says Johnny O – a nod to Johnny O’Clock – a 1947 film noir. Cops/love/etc. Hitchcock beats you over the head with some of the symbolism. Anyway – so then Madeline dies and really it’s one of those metaphorical deaths – the death of the part of the relationship where it’s infatuation type love. Mystery. Secret Knowledge. He can’t let that go and is forever chasing that kind of love. He ends up angry about Mad/Judy’s lies but the fact is, his love for Madeline was built on a lie also. How would she feel about him and this chance encounter if she knew (I realize she did) that he was not being entirely forthcoming. Madeline doesn’t see this bc she’s so consumed with her own guilty conscious about her lies. The point is, we all have secrets and lies and things we don’t divulge about who we are which ultimately, usually, ends up being the things we grapple with after romantic love has ended and your 15 years in with two kids and a person you don’t recognize. Can you, as Judy wants, let go of the past and start with these two new people or will the ghosts of who you believed you were when you first met always haunt you and so ultimately the relationship is doomed. I think it’s very hard to kill those ghosts. I feel like that’s why most people end up going their separate ways. Not because they can’t love the person in front of them, but because they can’t shift their thinking about who this person actually is versus the illusion they have created. And maybe that’s also really hard to do because you realize that you too are on the receiving end of that illusion based relationship. I guess, perhaps because of my own experiences, saw this as the stages of a relationship that ultimately lead to its demise. It’s Tom Stoppard’s – “the mask slipped from the face”. It’s what Joseph Campbell talks about when he says that we have to let go of the ideal and our own personas so that we can love another. Scotty never realizes that it’s his own inability to accept his own limitations – his inability to realize that he gets to be human and imperfect and that it doesn’t make his bad or wrong (as the judge so clearly would have him believe) that keeps him from moving forward in his life.
I wonder if others saw the movie in this way or perhaps that’s the beauty of this movie – that it’s so universal that we can apply these themes in many ways to our own lives. Or maybe it’s just that I’m a hammer and everything looks like a nail.
My 7 year old daughter wanted to watch. I let her watch some parts and then she was dying to know the plot so I ended up sharing the basics of the story. She was really drawn in though, which I thought was amazing considering what’s on TV now. I told her we could watch Rear Window next after I re -screen it as it’s been a long time. She was more upset by the Dylan Klebold-esq character in Toy Story so in many ways these movies are more child appropriate! Thanks for sharing this movie – it was on my list forever.
Zachary Beyersdoerfer says
Jennifer, I think you hit on some stellar points, and I also see a lot of what you are saying. I think it is interesting you noted about Scottie and having his main anchor of meaning/structure (his job) being ripped from him and leaving him in a place of despair, and that his falling in love with Madeline was a sort of knee jerk reaction to establish structure by using her as an anchor for a sense of identity and meaning. I never dug that deep, or rather, over looked that bit, but it seems probable that it be the source of all this, or the initial catalyst, a man no longer in control of his life, unable to do his job (sense of self) because of this “weakness” or illness. He has removed from him his level of control via leaving the force. Suspended in this “meaninglessness” he seeks to allocate that “control” through love, through Madeline.
There are all these interesting lines from Stewart’s character, particularly when Madeline is about to run up the tower. He says “No one is possessing you.” “You are safe with me.” and “I am not gonna lose you.” Here we see how possession and control are tied to his sense of being. It is humorous in a way, that within a few lines he claims no one possesses her, and then he declares he will not lose her, which would require for one to possess something to lose it, sort of like how one loses their watch.
It is here that I personally focused on the relationship between subject/object or facticity/transiency (satre and stuff). How Scottie and his love is a symbol of objectification, the removal or refusal of ones subjectivity, rendering them mere objects or means to an end. T
Zachary Beyersdoerfer says
This really comes into play after the Judy revelation. But we see it with Marge too. Marge and Scottie had a previous relationship, and it is implied that Marge is the one that “called off the engagement.” But the subtext, in combination with the camera shot on Marge, one where the angle is looking down on her, creates a sense of unease, pressure, and invasive-ness. This is juxtaposed with Scottie sort of carefree, joking almost, at ease, as if he is removed emotionally and responsibly from the situation. One can gather that, especially throughout the film, Marge has a willingness to change for Scottie, in exchange to be desired by him (this is represented through the scene where she paints her face on Carlotta’s portrait). Her willingness, in combination with the assumed idea that Scottie has known Marge, and come to know her subjectivity, or rather, has known her long enough to where her actually being, her trancieny makes it harder for him to manipulate her (in his mind) into a series of constructs. Whereas with Madeline, and Judy, we see that not being aware or recognizing someones subjectivity makes for fertile soil to compose of them what one wishes to see. Because of this, the angle is pointed downward, Marge feels ashamed, and exposed, Scottie isn’t even moved or aware of the fact, and if anything, is disgusted by it, when it manifests into the aforementioned painting.
That camera shot is significant, it only really gets used twice, maybe three times. The second time is when Scottie is in the hospital, and Marge is looking down on him, and his illness. You mentioned illness in a previous comment you wrote. I think there is alot of material here to say something about that. A lot of papers talk about feminism, the male gaze, lacan psycho analysis, etc. But I don’t think how illness is dealt with is mentioned a lot in relation to this film. I see something like the relationship between how all parties try to rationalize illness, especialy Scottie, and his attempt at bending the will of Madeline, as if she can just “snap out of it.” His rationale masculine attitude towards hjis own illness mirrors this, thinking that he can “beat it”. When in truth, no one, not even Scottie can understand the depths of mental illness, its complexities and so one, but yet he, and society (society!) has a tendency to reduce it into simple and false conditions.
The third time this shot is used, it is sort of reversed. It is when Judy is getting her grey dress, the one Scottie is imposing on her. It looks upwards, a glorifying shot, an idolization of sorts. She is being worshiped and shaped all at once by Scottie. And yet, she looks so uncomfortable, it is haunting. The juxtaposition of Judy’s expression and the angle of the shot allude to how conflicted she is, between surrenduring her subjectivity, in exchange for Scottie’s love, his worship. It is as if the only way she truly knows how to be loved, is through being objectified, and in some way knows this, and trembles at the thought, but trembles more so when faced with the absence of Scottie’s love. As she says “If i do all this, if i change, will you love me.” topped off by “I don’t care about me.”