Idolizing Laura (1944)

A picture stands above a fire place in an eloquent living room. The picture is of the title character of the 1944 film Laura.  She wears a black dress while seducing those who look at the painting by positioning herself between sitting and laying. Shadows surround the borders of her painting as a light illuminates from her body. Beneath her seducing pose is mystery given off by the shadows and her black dress. Under Laura’s spell is our hero, Detective Mark McPherson, and villain, Waldo Lydecker.

These two major characters are motivated for their love of Laura. They both are lonely and isolated besides their love of the title character. Mcpherson obsession is one of lust, while Waldo’s fixation is one of friendly intentions.

Mark’s obsession begins with his inability to separate the investigation with the real world. He navigates in an almost dream like trance, where he is completely motivated by solving the case. He admits to never being in love to Waldo. He is consumed by a case where he cannot trust a single person. This all culminates to an isolated lifestyle. Mark becomes fascinated by the photo that hangs in the room. The eyes of the painting always seem to follow him about. He reads her diary and Waldo thought Mark had fallen in love with a dead woman. Mark becomes possessed by her without any physical contact.

Once he discovered she is alive, he is motivated by lust in addition to his isolation. He first discovered that she was not the murder victim after he wakes up from sleeping in her living room under her painting. He becomes even more infatuated with her after it is revealed she is not the murder through interrogation. His sexual attraction leads to a kiss at the end of the movie between the two of them.

 

Waldo’s obsession is one that brings him to murder. He believes that since he cannot have her, nobody else can have her. He forms the relationship due to his loneliness and his isolation. It is the only noticeable human relationship in his life and he feels it should be hers. When he first encounters Laura he is dinning by himself at a restaurant, which is a clear indication of his loneliness. At first he is hesitant of somebody entering his solitude, but later reconsiders his relationship with her. Laura’s entrance into Waldo’s lonely world is what causes him to feel a sense of possession in regards to Laura.

His isolation could be due to several issues including that of his possible homosexuality. This is what separates Waldo’s relationship with that of Mark. While Mark is clearly attracted to Laura, Waldo has no sexual desires with her. Although the movie does not come out and announce his homosexuality, there are several indicators of his sexual orientation. Many of these signs are shown when we are first introduced to Waldo in his apartment. His Apartment is filled with artwork, which as we discussed in class can indicate homosexuality. Also when we first see him, he is lying naked in the tub. He is then seen getting out of the tube where he continues conversing despite his nudity. This is a major separator in the motivations of Waldo and Mark.



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