The only emotion that doesn’t deceive is anxiety

[kml_flashembed movie="http://vimeo.com/1458200" width="400" height="302" wmode="transparent" /]The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema

Slavoj Žižek presents his ideas or analyses of films of directors such as Hitchcock, Kieslowski, Tarkovsky, Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, Cappola and others in The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema. When I watched it I thought this would be a great supplementary material for this class because it offers a different perspective on a number of movies we have seen for this class. In this blog entry I will focus solely on the insights I found fascinating on Hitchcock as a director and his films, however, I would definitely recommend this Guide.
So before I begin I want to emphasize that Žižek uses psychoanalysis as his approach to this movies and some might think that he is seeing sexual themes or underlying motifs where there is not. While I will not argue for the Guide as a whole, I do want to highlight that Hitchcock created his films during the period when Freud and psychoanalysis was growing and given more focus in the U.S. Therefore, it is very likely that Hitchcock used these ideas in his films and intended for the viewer if not identify them, then at least subconsciously experience the effects.
In The Birds the son is split between his possessive mother and the intrusive girl. So the violent attacks of the birds of maternal superego, of the maternal figure trying to prevent sexual relations. The birds are raw incestuous energy. Žižek comments on the first attack that happens and explains that when a fantasy object, something imagined, an object from inner space enters our ordinary reality, the texture of reality is twisted, distorted and that is exactly how desire inscribes itself into reality – by distorting it. At the vocal level, anxiety is silence. For example, when the mother finds the dead neighbor, she runs out of the house with her mouth open, trying to scream but no sound is made. This action is much more effective in eliciting anxiety in the viewer as opposed to her running out, screaming at the top of her lungs. This feeling of the sound stuck in her, the implication of a sound but lack of it is unsettling.
In Psycho, events which take place in the mother’s house are at three levels as if they reproduce the three levels of human subjectivity. Ground floor is ego – Norman behaves there as a normal son; up is the superego, maternal superego because the dead mother is the figure of the superego; and down is the id – the reservoir of the illicit drives. We can see how very interconnected the id and the superego are when Norman carries his mother from the second floor to the basement. Žižek mentions a few things about the scene of Norman cleaning the bathroom after the murder: besides the length, the care and the meticulousness with which it is done and the spectator’s identification with it tells us about the satisfaction we find in work or in a job well done.
According to Žižek, the true tragedy of Vertigo is that it’s a story about two people who, each in his or her own way, get caught in their own game of appearances. For both of them, appearances win over reality. Žižek comments that “the first part, with Madeline suicide, is not as unsettling as it could have been because it’s really a terrifying clause but in this very loss, the ideal survives. The ideal of the fatal woman possesses you totally. What ultimately this fascinating image of the fatal woman stands for is death. The fascination of beauty is always the veil which covers up a nightmare. When you come to close, you see shit, decay… The ultimate abyss is not a physical abyss but the abyss of the death of another person.” In the second part of Vertigo, Scotty attempts to make his fantasy come true. “We have a perfect name for fantasy realized, it’s called nightmare.” This turn of fantasy into reality is always sustained by extreme violence. In order for Scotty to want her, to lover her, he has to mortify her, change her into a dead woman.

In conclusion, the overall sentiment that Hitchcock films evoke is that “it’s not that simply something horrible happens in reality, something worse can happen, which undermines the very fabric of what we experience as reality.”
I hope this brief glance at Slavoj Žižek’s ideas on Hitchcock films peaks your interest, I truly enjoyed watching The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sFqfbrsZbw" width="480" height="385" wmode="transparent" /]

SEX SELLS

We often think of ads using sex appeal to sell clothes, drinks, shoes and so much more. But in watching the slasher films for my presentation i realized that a lot of sex appeal is used to gain a bigger audience. When I watched the Texas Chainsaw Massacre(1974) and its remake from(2003), I saw this more clear then ever. In the images below we see Pam from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, approaching leatherfaces home where she will soon meet her death. Although it is a very tense moment i couldn’t help but look over to my male companion watching the film and notice his goo goo eyes as we see a shot of her short shorts and backless shirt. This even more so when we were watching the remake to Texas Chainsaw Massacre where Jessica Biel is running around escaping death in her white wet t-shirt, which manages to stay neatly tied around her waist showing her flat stomach throughout the whole film. But in the image below we see a omage to the original with Erin approaching the house and another shot of her backside and leather faces home in the background, truly a sex appeal omage to the previous film.I think the directors were clever in their approach to not only appeal to their young audiences through gruesome, gorey techniques but also to appeal to them through sex. I think this is used as often as possible in most films, even though movies have become alot more complex than the simple slasher movies, they still contain the “hot” girl running away from the killer, or a very muscular model looking young man who is supposed to be the “guy next door.” All i can say about this is that it’s a great technique to gain audiences of all ages who not only want the protagonist to survive but to also move next door to them.

Obviously the backless shirt and the view up the short shorts is necessary


Erin

This looks familiar


femme fatale

In watching the films assigned to us in class i find myself looking constantly at women who are portrayed as the source of trouble in our leading protagonists lives. Even though the women are downplayed in a large way by the heroic man, their roles serve of grave importance but not in a pleasant light most of the time. In movies such as The Lady From Shanghai we see how the beautiful Rosalie uses her charm to “force” Michael to stay with her, eventually we see that she did this for her own benefit and seemed to have no regard for his life. In Double Indemnity we see how Phyllis also uses her looks in order to “force” a man into doing as she pleases. In movies like these and in others that we have seen such as Detour and D.O.A. we see how woman are placed into roles that are completely opposite of the damsel in distress and instead are women with no emotions who seem to just be interested in money and material goods. Although i believe a damsel in distress isn’t the best way to portray a woman, it seems equally offensive to see these heartless women representing women. It confuses me that women in the end of these films were seen as the bad ones because they “brought the leading man down with their seductions and deceit” when it is obvious that no man can be FORCED into doing anything, none of these women threatened to kill these men if they didn’t make out with them, it was the mans own fault for choosing to chase these women. I believe it all comes down to choice just as Adam could have chosen not to bite the apple Eve gave to him so could these men have chosen not to listen to these women, for falling for these women and getting themselves into a whole mess of trouble i think they should be seen as fools and not be shown sympathy. I believe Julie Grossman sums it up perfectly when she states that these movies serve to portray women as these dangerous being that should be TAMED by institutions (which means by MEN), and this doesn’t come as a shock considering that these films were made by men. Although i dont think directors of movies did this intentionally, i believe it does reflect the times in which they lived in where women were either seen as innocent creatures that needed a mans guidance in order to have a happy life, or they were seen as these “femme fatale” characters who were way out of control and needed to be stopped by the all knowing man.