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Journal of Religion and Film (2012) - Hitchcock and the scapegoat: violence and victimization in The Wrong Man




Alfred Hitchcock's The Wrong Man tells the story of Emmanuel Balestrero, arrested for a crime committed by his physical double. This paper examines the theme of the scapegoat in the film and argues that it portrays in miniature what theorist Rene Girard has described as a mimetic crisis. While the plight of the central character is usually portrayed as a product of blind chance, it is instead due to the mimetic fears, desires, and vanities of the members of society that accuse him. The fate of Balestrero reveals the operation of a specific kind of scapegoat mechanism that has its roots in mimetic desire.