Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Doubles and Doppelgangers in Film: Representations of Identity, Psychology, and Relationships in Female-centered Narratives Public Deposited

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    In this paper, I focus on the theme of doubling within cinema, investigating its function as a narrative device. Film form has been able to both continue and transform the tradition of the doppelganger through its investigation of the implications of doubling within the narrative, while simultaneously presenting a mirror for the audience, confronting them with an alternate reality. Important to note is the difference between the use of the terms doppelganger and double or doubling. Doppelganger is used here to refer directly to an individual who resembles another greatly or is identical to them. Meanwhile, doubling is a broader term, which includes doppelgangers, but also can be used to describe a paralleling or comparison between individuals whose appearance may not be one-to-one. I argue that within film, doppelgangers and doubles are used as a mechanism to open up a character’s identity and their narrative possibilities, allowing an understanding of them to a depth that is incapable without a mirroring figure. It is through the double that a character’s complexity can be understood, and the unease and uncertainty that result from this figure’s appearance directly reflect the precariousness of the world in which we live. This becomes especially interesting when looking at the way gendered doubles are represented, as the existence and complicated position of a woman can be investigated through doubling. I explore the way that the doppelganger or double is used specifically through female characters in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010), Henry Selick’s Coraline (2009), and Celine Sciamma’s Petite Maman (2020). All three films use the doppelganger or double to explore complex emotions, investigate the relationship between mothers and daughters, and express the challenging nature of identity.

Date Awarded
  • 2023-10-31
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Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2023-11-02
  • University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Boulder
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