Alfred Hitchcock is arguably the greatest director of all time. Many of his films are considered standards of American cinema and inspired many of today’s directors. Even though Hitchcock is known as timeless director, he had an understanding of philosophy that was beyond his time. Hitchcock had a brilliant perception as to how the mind works and human reaction. Hitchcock’s understanding of philosophy can be seen in his film Vertigo and illustrates how many theories can be debilitating in everyday life.
Into the Mind of Freud through the Mind of Hitchcock
One of the philosophies that Hitchcock tackles is that of Sigmund Freud. Freud is known for psychoanalysis and his interpretation of dreams. Specifically, Freud’s theories can be seen with the character of Scottie in Vertigo. John “Scottie” Ferguson, who is the main protagonist in the film, is controlled by many factors in his subconscious which lead to his weaknesses and downfall. Some of those weaknesses include his vertigo and the way he deals with the death of Madeline. Furthermore, Hitchcock uses psychoanalysis to put you into the inner thoughts of characters like Scottie in the film.
One of Freud’s theories is the interpretation of fear. In Vertigo, this fear is represented by falling and Scottie’s “vertigo”. In Interpretation of Dreams, Freud says that “Dreams of falling are more frequently characterized by anxiety.” Scottie’s irrational fear of heights in characterized in the first scene of the film when he lets a fellow officer fall to his death because of he height he was at. Scottie embodies this fear which validates the theory as well as him showing Hitchcock’s great understanding of philosophy. Paul Duncan in his book Hitchcock: Architect of Anxiety, 1899-1980 believes that Scottie’s fear of heights represents his anxiety to commitment. His fear of commitment is shown when he is at the church with Madeline. Though he is tricked, he believes that due to his vertigo he lets her die...