Theory in a Digital Age: A Project of English 483 Students, Coastal Carolina University

Types of Doubles Seen in Film

Popular culture of the twentieth century has rebirthed the theme of the psychological thriller. In terms of rebirth, majority of films play with the motif of the doppelganger in a more modern way. Modern film uses the motif of the double in four broad groups: physical doubles, reflection doubles, transformation doubles, and narratology doubles. Some popular modern films that you can see these categories being used in are: Fight Club (1999), Batman Begins (2005), Coraline (2009), Dexter (2006-2013), The Black Swan (2010), and Looper (2012); but the list goes on. For the purpose of this project I will analyze two films that which I feel support not only my theoretical theory about the use of doubles in film/cinema, but also support these four groups of double. The films I have chosen to analyze are The Black Swan, and the TV series Dexter. While Dexter is not an actual film it is a TV series that strongly portrays the double in a unique, modern way; while also still showing some of that uncanny use of double that has been used over the past centuries.The biggest reason I chose these two films though is because they show the motif of the double in a way that causes the character to realize their doppelganger is an actual part of them, which then causes fear within.

The four broad groups of doubles were presented by Levi Strauss in his blog titled “Culture Decanted” in a section which he named “The Semiotics of the Doppelganger: The Double in Popular Culture; the four groups which Strauss describes as the popular culture’s four main uses of the double in film. As I mentioned above I will be looking at the film The Black Swan and the TV series Dexter, as examples of these four groups. In order to analyze the films correspondingly to the four groups, I decided to split the two films into the categories I felt they resonated with the most. For the categories of Physical Doubles, Narratology Doubles, and Reflection Doubles; I decided to use the Black Swan (along with Dexter for Reflection Doubles as well). For the category of Transformation Doubles I will also use Dexter as the main example.


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