A vertiginous gap in reality and a woman who doesn't exist
Author: Joyce Huntjens
 Published: January 2003
Abstract (E): In this paper, the uncanniness of Vertigo is examined in terms of the relation between man (John) and woman (Madeline), of power, and of the gaze. The construction of Madeline reveals that she is not a woman, but John's object-of-desire, she does not exist as such. When the mystery of Madeline is unveiled at the end of the film, she turns out to be an ordinary woman. John is cured from his vertigo, but at the cost of the woman's life, for a real relation turns out to be impossible. Abstract (F): Dans cet article, l' « unheimlich » est analysé de trois points de vue : les rapports homme (John)/femme (Madeline), les rapprts de pouvoir, la notion lacanienne de « regard ». la construction de Madeline montre qu'elle n'est pas une femme, mais l'objet du désir de John, et qu'elle n'existe donc pas en elle-même. Lorsqu'à la fin du film le mystère de Madeline est dévoilé, elle s'avère n'être qu'une femme ordinaire. John est guéri de ses vertiges, mais le prix à payer est la mort de la femme, car pour lui une relation avec une vraie femme n'est pas possible. Keywords: Hitchcock, Vertigo, woman, object-of-desire, Zizek,

One might characterise Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958) as a kind of detective story with a tragic-romantic twist, were it not for some objections that can be raised which may reveal another level of interpretation. Why, for instance, does the viewer never learn Elster's motif for killing his wife? Why does Elster pick out the detective John Ferguson to shadow his wife, using the improbable story of his wife being obsessed by the ghost of her grandmother? Why is the killer not tracked down after the final resolution of the ins and outs of the affair? Furthermore, we may wonder why Hitchcock reveals the truth about of Madeline's death and Judy's double identity already halfway through the film, thus rendering the final half of the film very slow and even irrelevant from the perspective of the detective genre. An analysis of the film in terms of the notion of the uncanny, might provide an answer to some of these questions, simply by pointing out the elements that add to the "uncanniness" of Vertigo. Taking Freud's 1919 article on the uncanny as the central point of reference, one would relate the pattern of repetition in the film three times someone dies due to a fall from a great height - to Freud's remarks on the repetition compulsion. Moreover, there is the suggestion of a woman being haunted by the spirit of her deceased great-grandmother. In the second half of the film, finally, we encounter the theme of the doppelganger. All these elements seem to give Vertigo a special atmosphere that perhaps can best be described as uncanny. On closer consideration however, a comparison of the first remarks on the detective genre with the latter on the uncanny, may give rise to some doubt concerning the traditional motifs of the uncanny. Indeed, as I hope to demonstrate in my analysis, the uncanny in Vertigo resides in another category than the obvious, superficial characteristics mentioned above. We will submit the film to a "close viewing", in order to track down the specificity of the uncanny in this film, i.e., we will stick to the chronology of the film, as this also seems to be the order in which Vertigo reveals its covert meaning.

1. The perspective

the viewer is entirely wrapped up in John's experience. there are only three shots in which we can see John and Midge together. it also holds the clue to the uncanny aspect of Vertigo.The film opens with a rather abstract shot of a steel bar against a blurry background. whom John as a student was once engaged to for a couple of weeks. standing on her desk. when he stretches toward the suspended man. Suddenly. We see through his eyes the yawning abyss to the street far below him. When the man in the grey suit slips. This may be what flashes through John's mind when he is suspended from a gutter high above the street. a hand clutching to the bar. In the opening sequence it becomes clear that the subjective experience of John Ferguson will determine the rest of the story. In the first half of the film. Next. In this rare experience. we still get an occasional shot from the perspective of John's friend Midge. the police officer slips and falls to his death. will be the main character of the story. For the main part of the film. . In the shots of John. he grabs hold of the gutter and finds himself suspended high above the street. What happens to a person in this instant? It is a widely acknowledged fact that one is subject to an immense fear of falling. Only after Madeline's death and John's encounter with Judy. her point of view hardly amounts to more than a marginal moment within the overall perspective of the film. he is emphatically shown waving and gesticulating with his stick. 2. The difficult communication between the sexes We never find out how John is rescued. One could say that each is confined to their own space: one masculine and the other feminine. Still. the temptation to let go and to surrender to the fall becomes almost indistinguishable from the fear of death. The famous shot of John's vertigo is the most crucial moment in the opening sequence of the film. we see how the police officer turns to him (to us as it were) to offer his hand. John's subjective perspective through not only determinates the development of the story. Ultimately. the viewer will be confined to John's view. there is some room for another perspective. (Wood: 375) The shots of Midge are characterised by the presence of a revolutionary new bra. As it will turn out. Subsequently. After the opening sequence. Here. we see a man running across a roof followed by a police officer and by a man in a grey suit. we hear John say that he will be freed from his corset the following day and that he has resigned from the police force. suggesting some critical distance. makes us realise that we are in fact looking at a steel bar. the gaze of the viewer coincides with that of the man in the grey suit. but soon. which brings us to the actual experience of vertigo. Attentive viewers have already pointed out that this part of the movie consists of many shots that are designed to keep Midge and John from appearing but rarely within the same frame. an old friend. Through subjective shots. whom we will get to know as John Ferguson. It effectively illustrates the captivating attraction of the depth below. However. the story instantly shifts to the apartment of Midge. The confrontation with his own death drive will frighten and fascinate him for the rest of the film. while at the same time being tempted by the call of depth. Apparently we find ourselves in the middle of a pursuit across the rooftops of San Francisco. The subjective shots from the point of view of the suspended man lead us to presume correctly that this man.

her embrace is clearly that of a concerned and caring mother. trying to give confidence to her child. Overcome with dizziness. like a mother. while at the same time warning him to be careful and to take it easy. 3. when John tells her "Don't be so motherly". This is indicated earlier on in the conversation. or at least between John and a woman. If John is not attracted to Midge because she so overtly takes on the role of his mother. the scenes in which both characters are present emphasise the misunderstandings in their attempt to communicate. Midge encourages him by actually getting the ladder for him. This is emphasised especially in her last appearance in the film. it becomes clear that Midge is seriously interested in John. this may be due to the fact that this kind of relationship reminds him too much of his dependence. he falls straight into Midges arms. she treats him as a mother. he accidentally glances out of the window of the apartment building. In this scene. there is the scene in which Midge explains the revolutionary bra on her desk to John with the words "You know about these things. but John does not react.
 As Wood explains in Hitchcock's Films Revisited. In the course of the film. she tells him "Mother is here". the impossible relation between man and woman. it becomes clear that Midge does not quite posses the mystery and veiled eroticism to seduce John. Secondly. Deeply disappointed Midge walks out of the hospital and out of the story. First. First of all. Male identity John's first words in this film are that he will be at liberty tomorrow . Comfortingly. The montage of this part of the film in fact already tells us something about the theme of the film. but she is not endowed with the mysticism that makes Madeline so attractive to John. In addition.liberated . The second scene in which they appear together in one shot is the one in which John suggests he might try and overcome his vertigo by first learning to climb a small stepladder again. In this last shot in which John and Midge are seen together. When John is standing on top of the small steps. Midge is far too independent for John. she overtly takes on a motherly role towards John. when she visits him at the hospital where he is taken in after his nervous breakdown following Madeline's suicide. You're a big boy now".

There are several indications that John desperately tries to conform to this image of potent masculinity. Although John reacts sceptically at first. After the conversation in Midge's apartment. references to freedom and power are again emphatically related to male identity. Holding this thought. each time with reference to the power and freedom of men. In this sequence. We see John admiring a painting of San Francisco in "the good old days" while Elster is telling him about the power and freedom of men in those days. the power and freedom of men to dispose of their wives whenever it suits them. He also refers to himself as "available Ferguson". Elster turns out to have married his way into "the shipbuilding-industry". Woman as an object of art . consulted by John on his search for Carlotta Valdes. the words "freedom" and "power" are used in relation to each other and they return several times. let us return to the chronology of the film. The conversation swiftly moves on to Elster's wife Madeline. He ridicules her by suggesting that Elster probably dumped her after the murder "with all that money and that freedom and that power". the restaurant where John will see Madeline for the very first time. but also Scottie. as the variety of nicknames he receives throughout the film suggests. he is eventually persuaded to follow Madeline for a while in order to learn more about her daily routine. when John jeers at Judy for her nave involvement with Elster. About halfway through this remark. (Wood: 380) This ancient male privilege is confirmed by the owner of the bookstore. Carlotta was picked up from a cabaret by a wealthy man. the story shifts to Elster's office. The bookseller's comment is: "Men had the power and the freedom in those days". in which we have learned that John has been invited by an old friend from university. This is perhaps most clear at the very end of the movie. Thus. the camera switches from John in front of the painting to Elster in front of the window of his office. it prevents him from rescuing the woman of his dreams. Throughout the film. John's identity and masculinity are by no means as stable as he would wish them to be. Eventually John consents and the film cuts to Ernie's. Midge calls him Johnny-o and John-o. a stark contrast between the wealthy and powerful Elster and the unemployed and handicapped John Ferguson is installed. When John asks who this might be. Elster is worried that someone might hurt her. overlooking an impressive shipyard. (Wood: 383) People not only call him John. the handicap of his vertigo not just makes him unfit for his job. more specifically even. But then. In addition. 4. Elster ominously answers "Someone dead". the great-grandmother with whom Madeline is obsessed. that is. who later on dumped her mercilessly and took her child away from her.from his corset.

(Wood: 384) One cannot have a love affair with a work of art. The next day. But this is something John is too blind to see. Gradually. which makes her appear like a work of art.
 What is striking about the scene of John's first encounter with Madeline is the way in which she is presented to the audience and to John: by means of an explicit profile. the profile shot will gain significance. the ominous undertones of their encounter come to the fore. As a work of art Madeline is on the one
 hand easily accessible. Thus presented. because she is passive and an object of the male gaze. when it is explicitly related to Carlotta Valdes' portrait in the museum that Madeline visits during her vagaries. on the other hand. unless a very perverse one. so we presume. she is completely inaccessible as a human being. John follows Madeline. Later on. our first encounter with Madeline may already lead to the conclusion that one side of the story is missing. Madeline is followed into all sorts . The equation of Madeline to a work of art also reveals her true nature.

which cannot be a good sign. the women slowly start to merge into one figure. For the viewer. Madeline is asleep in bed. This is the closest he will ever get to the object of his desire without breaking the illusion of perfection. A shot of her clothes hanging to dry in the kitchen suggest that John has undressed and dried her before putting her to bed. When Madeline wakes up. and it is striking that she often does this by driving downhill. thus representing his blindness. and an old hotel.of dark places. after which the sequence cuts to John's apartment. This is repeated by a zoom-in on Madeline's hairstyle followed by a zoom-in on Carlotta's hairstyle. This only adds to John's fascination. For the perceptive viewer. While pouring a second cup of coffee. a graveyard. and subsequently on the bouquet that Carlotta Valdes is holding in the painting. Madeline keeps on leading John to dark places. she does not. Also for John this must have been a very erotic moment. An important change takes place when John follows Madeline to San Francisco Bay where she jumps into the river. The camera zooms in on the bundle of roses she has 
 laid beside her on the bench. His jump into San Francisco Bay was more than just a jump into the icy water. . The effect of the zoom-in is that the details are overdetermined for John. this scene again marks Madeline's appearance as a work of art and it reveals something of her artificiality. In the museum John's fascination for Madeline begins to take shape. We see him spying on her sitting in front of a painting of Carlotta Valdes. a back alley behind a flower shop where she buys roses. This scene is very suggestive and certainly not only for the audience. By focussing on these details. who confirms that Carlota Valdes was Madeline's greatgrandmother and that the hotel used to be Carlotta's home. John jumps after her and rescues her from drowning. John pours her a cup of coffee and asks her if she remembers what happened. Of course. During the following days. he cannot resist caressing her hand. it is clear: John is hopelessly lost. John keeps following Madeline and reports to her husband Elster. a dim museum.

as a consequence. but at the same time it is nothing. This gap becomes the place for fantasy. a non-existing object (even the ever-present breast of the mother was always already an illusion).. In Zizek's words. John and Madeline get more and more intimate with each other. 5. this desire is contained as a constitutive moment within a complex system of meanings. i. or better still. is that she is surrounded with mystery. She is his objectof-desire. the object of desire holds a special position within this Symbolic Order. Madeline will occupy the place of the Thing in John's perception of the world. It is convinced that the mother's breast will always be there at its disposal. During the development from infancy to adulthood. in other words. This fantasy is in fact the place of the Thing. they drive off together. The Thing is thus in fact the object-of-desire. where they confront each other. After their meeting in front of the house. who will take the place of the sublimated Thing in this story. (Zizek: 83) When something is sublimated. as Zizek explains in Looking Awry. why is John so fascinated with Madeline. the relation of the subject to the object of desire is by nature unfulfilled. The object of desire can never be attained. the Symbolic Order. According to Lacan. which eventually leads to a very dramatic kiss that very same afternoon. every desire is a constant longing to return to this primary state of instant gratification of all desires by the mother's breast. However. Considering the abundance of subjective shots in Vertigo. In fact. . This mystery has everything to do with her suicidal tendencies or. The question is. Lacan and the Thing In his analysis of Vertigo.The next day John follows Madeline once more. In Vertigo. the human drives determine the way in which people generate their everyday relation to the world. A difficult but unavoidable task for the growing child is to learn to accept that the world does not function like that. Following Lacan. John's surrender to the woman of his dreams is complete. Slavoj Zizek refers to Lacan's theory that sublimation has to do with death. more important however. she is "materialized Nothingness". the infant is unaware of the boundaries between itself and the others. The object of his gaze is Madeline. violins dominate the soundtrack while behind them we can see waves breaking on the cliffs. the subject of the gaze is obviously John Ferguson. The Symbolic Order represents the system of meanings that people create to make sense of everyday reality. but this time she leads him to his own house. her death drive. What is it that makes her so utterly irresistible to him? First of all. the object starts to function as "the Thing" within the economy of the spectatorsubject. Since we are dealing with a desire that cannot be fulfilled. the object-of-desire constitutes a gap between the reality of desire and reality as an everyday experience. with an unattainable. As one would expect. because it is nothing more than an impossible fantasy.e. rather than with de-sexualization as is more commonly assumed. she is a very attractive woman. At birth. Desire and the object of desire determine the subject's view of the world. (Zizek: 83) She will not cease to fascinate until John realises that her essence is one of non-existence.

it seems as if he is only trying to help Madeline. which prevents him from following her all the way to the top.This is the point the film will lead to when John discovers that Judy is in fact Madeline. when Elster talks about his wife in his office. he ardently asks her "What was it that made you jump?" Initially. including . "What may you jump?". His identity can also be regarded as doubtful. When John and Madeline go for a walk in the woods the day after she jumped into the bay. this is also John's main occupation since he left the police force. he introduces himself to her and insists that she will have dinner with him. She is no longer my wife. Woman is but a symptom of man as subject. Elster threw his dead wife's body from the tower. The fact that Woman as an ideal object does not exist makes her one with the Thing. This is the lesson that John will have to learn in order to be cured from his vertigo. the viewer for the first time sees the story from a different perspective. but his concern soon turns out to be tainted with interest of a different nature. he sees women who look like her and things that remind him of her. He does this because he believes that there is a rational explanation for everything. because of his vertigo. when Madeline untangles herself from his embrace and runs to the church in order to jump off the tower. For instance. As a result. 7. Knowing John could never make it to the top of the bell tower. What was it in that alluring depth that for a second tempted him to let go? John hopes to find an answer to his own question in Madeline. In Vertigo it becomes painfully clear that Woman does not exist. which becomes total when John is captivated by Madeline's suicide attempt. However. Everywhere he goes. The becomes clear when John takes his beloved to San Juan Baptista. Judy's inevitable destiny After Madeline's suicide John completely collapses. According to Zizek. We see Judy writing a letter to John explaining everything. John and Madeline are not completely identical. Moreover. She consents eventually and when John leaves the room. In a flashback we find out that Elster murdered his wife and that Judy really is the woman John fell in love with. He follows her. unlike John. John himself answers to various names. she is pure death drive. to the point of hospitalisation. the idea that Woman does not exist. In this helpful curiosity lies a link with John's vertigo. This is how he first notices Judy. John became the perfect witness for Madeline's staged suicide and consequently Elster's perfect alibi. When he is released from hospital it only takes a minute for the viewer to realise that he is not over Madeline. The woman who doesn't exist So far our question has been: why is Madeline so fascinating? Part of the answer lies in John's identification with Madeline. When John hears about her existence for the first time. by trying to rationalise her nightmares and fears. the fantasy and the nonexistent object-of-desire. Madeline jumps no matter what. Still. 6. Woman equals Nothingness. nothing more than "materialized Nothingness". the fact that Madeline wanders is emphasised. He just hangs around. this may be explained by the fact that she is. Elster wonders: "Suddenly I don't know her. But let's not run ahead of things. his fear of death is still as great or greater than his death drive. Quite obtrusively. As for John. This leads to a first identification. (Zizek: 83) This brings us to another piece of Lacanian theory. the difference between the two lovers becomes painfully clear. her identity is presented as somehow dubious." As I have pointed out above. including his own question. he insists.

"It couldn't matter to you". unless one of the lovers abandons the relationship. At this precise moment John is miraculously cured of his vertigo. personal desires and wishes do not quite fit into this ideal state of being. John's obsession with Madeline is daunting. The moment Judy puts on a certain necklace. but eventually one will find out that one really is the thing one only pretended to be at first. this sequence exactly repeats what we saw when John drove Madeline to San Juan Baptista the day she jumped off the bell tower. As soon as he realises that his fascination was directed at something that was really nothing at all. becomes highly ambiguous. as the object-of-desire she will take the subject back to the paradisiacal state of immediate gratification of all desires at the mother's breast. Judy consents to an affair with John. thus in fact sealing her fate? To what extent does Judy conform to her role of Woman and does she have an alternative to conformation? The answer to this question must be negative. Judy's panic attack in the bell tower is a perfect illustration of what Zizek calls the . which were so overdetermined that they obscured his view. according to Zizek (1991). What follows might as well be the most ominous sequence in the film. the phrase "I have my face on". this is supported by reverse movement of the zoom-in on Carlotta Valdes' portrait during an earlier visit to the museum. On a literal level. one could interpret this zoom-out as John's renewed control over the whole picture. returns in many of Hitchcock's films. he takes Judy to San Juan Baptista. She is completely subordinated to the male gaze. As an object-of-desire Woman becomes pure object. John suddenly realises that he has been fooled. probably hoping that he will eventually fall in love with her real self. there already had to be something of either woman in both these appearances. At that very moment Judy coincides with Madeline and her destiny is inevitable. expressed by Judy. Judy/Madeline breaks down completely. to her mirror image on the first night that she will go out with John for the first time in her new guise. since she eventually gives in to all of John's bizarre wishes. the move is an illustration of John's sudden repulsion toward the woman in front of him. This formula will have a similar effect in Vertigo. we may start to wonder how much of Judy already was in Madeline and vice versa. who has now turned into Madeline. Are we dealing with one or two women? In order to be able to be either Judy or Madeline. After her complete transformation into Madeline. when John points out she is a fraud. We see Judy sitting next to John in the car. This confirms the idea that the ideal Woman does not have a will of her own. As soon as she exposed in the bell tower as the Woman who does not exist. After all. Does this not mean that Judy was Madeline? Can we blame John for reducing Judy to the non-existing Woman. Most often this concerns a couple that pretends to be in love. but eventually will have to confess to really being in love. he says. In the first half of the movie Judy pretends to be Madeline. rather than being obsessed with details. he rejects the object of his fascination and finds himself cured. A will of her own.that she has unintentionally fallen in love with him. Very often Hitchcock uses the following formula: at first one pretends to be something. Apparently Judy is hopelessly in love. but soon John demands her to dress like the late Madeline. Cinematically. Bearing this in mind. Which one is the mask? Judy or Madeline? This brings us to a phenomenon that. how she looks up to see the top of the trees beside the road flash over her head. while in the second half John pretends that Judy is Madeline. In fact. Suddenly she tears up the letter and decides to go out with John anyway. except his own downfall. (Wood: 388) Moreover. He even makes her change the colour of her hair. Now John realises that his sublime Madeline has never existed.

First for the viewer and later for John Ferguson. towards her destiny. by the . But before we get into this we will first take a look at Todorov's theory on the fantastic. What happens to a reader and/or character who finds out that he or she was dealing with an event that was (merely) uncanny. but also on the level of form and montage. exposed as pure death drive. an illusion. which is not merely situated on the level of the story. either the uncanny.breakdown of the femme fatale in film noir. she panics. Is what is happening real or just an illusion? Depending on the answer to this question a fantastic story will eventually always yield to either the genre of the uncanny or to the genre of the marvellous. more importantly. However. She tries to convince him once more that she really loves him. or one was simply tricked by others. but when the dark shadow of the nun appears in the back. she is already so desperate that she jumps off the tower. unlikely or even a bit silly. Without dizzy spells. According to Todorov the transition from the fantastic to the uncanny is always accompanied by the realisation that one was suffering from distorted sight. because he witnesses Judy's flashback halfway through the film. Only rarely. Either one experienced a mirage. he can now bear witness to the gap in his realty and look down into the depth below. the reader has to be challenged to doubt the true nature of the events he is reading about. (Zizek: 65) In a split second. does not exist. He was deceived by Elster and Judy and blinded by his love for Madeline. various emotions rapidly succeed. Her exposure is always marked by an instant of hysterical breakdown. In any case. This is also what happens to Judy. [1] A story will belong to the genre of the uncanny if a rational explanation is offered for the fantastic events in the story. her exposure as nonexistence. this revelation also entails that relationships with ordinary everyday women are impossible. Todorov goes even further when he analyses the doubt evoked by a fantastic story. as we now know. This denouement finally makes it clear that Woman. When John confronts her. On the other hand. a fit of madness or an illness. or in the mind of the reader alone. In film noir there is always a woman who will lure the male hero toward his defeat and who thus represents pure death drive. The spectator is released from his feeling of doubt earlier. indicating the cracks in the mask. Todorov states that a story belongs to the genre of the fantastic if the story manages to raise doubt in both the characters and the reader. or the marvellous. This kind of story will eventually just seem strange. His blindness can be illustrated by many of the things we already said above concerning Madeline's presentation as a work of art and. a story will be able to suspend the initial doubt in the readers' mind indefinitely. In the case of Hitchcock's Vertigo the answer would almost certainly lead to the category of the fantastic-uncanny. a story may lapse into "the marvellous" when fantastic events are accepted as extraordinary and turn out to belong to the category of the supernatural. Something Midge already realised in the first half of the story. This will also turn out to be the level on which the uncanny in Vertigo must be situated. The last shot shows us John standing on the edge of the tower. This entails that in this story the parameters of the normal are adjusted to account for the fantastic events. Eventually. the end of her power to fascinate. Distorted sight and the true nature of the uncanny This finale brings us to a theme of the story. This last solution seems also to be the answer to John's problem in Vertigo. 8. it will always opt for one of the two solutions. who through the disclosure completely coincides with Madeline.

but real Judy. Ithaca: Cornell UP. he now comprehends that he was only a passive pawn in someone else's game. Bibliography Hitchcock. Cambridge: The MIT Press. the obtrusiveness of his gaze becomes very obvious. something else is going on as well. Hitchcock's Films Revisited. It was John's gaze that made him believe in an ideal Woman in the first place. In John's blindness and in the possible tyranny of someone's gaze over another person we encounter the truly uncanny moment of Vertigo. in which we only get to see what John sees. he also admits "I really loved you Madeline" to which she answers that she loves him too. subjective point of view.The Fantastic. This disillusionment leaves no room for Judy who in the guise of Madeline jumps off the bell tower as unmasked Nothingness. This may be called a revelation as well as a release from John's narrow. Vertigo. After the flashback most of what we get to see is again defined by John's point of view. An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture. while John thought that he was shadowing Madeline. Judy can be nothing more than the unmasked "Nothingness" we encountered in Zizek's theories. the audience's perspective has mostly been limited to John's perspective. she was leading him everywhere and made him follow her. Wood. halfway through the film we are confronted with Judy's flashback. An identity he associates with freedom and power. However. but because the spectator is now very much aware of the other side of the story. Judy's transformation into Madeline by John not only solved a murder mystery. as he tells her. "there's no bringing it back". Apparently John's gaze proves to be so tyrannical that he brings out the Madeline in Judy. but now that same gaze confronts him with the hollowness of this illusion. Todorov. He rejects the ordinary. 1958. This is an insult to his identity as a male. Todorov. but knowing that he is really looking at the much coarser Judy makes him reject her anyway. Judy had been in charge all the time. When at the end of the story Judy completely coincides with Madeline. as we illustrated extensively above. Quite suddenly. Universal. He is confronted with the shortcoming of his own gaze. Robin. a human being of flesh and blood. This insult is the main reason for his anger in the bell tower at San Juan Baptista. New York: Columbia UP. Alfred. This is paralleled in the story by John's attempt to transform Judy into Madeline against her will. From the outside this woman in front of him may look like the real thing. which will lead to her death. As a matter of fact. because to him this is not Madeline's answer but Judy's. He actually imposes his gaze on her. S. Looking Awry. but also undermined his illusion of the possibility of an ideal Woman. 1989. 1987. In reality.fact that from the very beginning. A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre. Zizek. he gets furious. . She can never be the sublime Woman that Madeline was in his eyes. as becomes clear when they are driving to San Juan Baptista. The first half of the film consists of a sheer endless series of subjective shots. While he thought he was the agent in this story. But. When John realises that the object-of-hisdesire was looking back at him all along and that she was only a real woman. 1991. It also explains why John tries to make a fool of Judy by pointing out to her that Elster probably dumped her "with all that power and that money and that freedom" when he didn't need her anymore.

[1] "Uncanny" is the translation of "étrange" and should not be confused with "unheimlich". . but they do not coincide. as it has been used thus far in the article. Both terms will be compared here.