Alfred Hitchcock's rape scene: What's the message?

Tonight, The Denver Public Library's Rare and Rarely Seen Hitchcock series comes to a close with a screening of Marnie. One of the director's final films, the movie deals with a psychologically damaged union between characters played by Sean Connery and Tippi Hedren. Their strange marriage reaches an emotional breaking point when he rapes her on their honeymoon.

The movie goes on to reveal that Hedren's character has repressed memories involving a misunderstood sexual assault in her past, and she decides to try and make her marriage with Connery's character work.

The controversy surrounding this scene is whether or not Connery's character is morally defensible or not. Hitchcock seems to think he is, presenting the forced sexual encounter as a continuation of his psychological superiority over his wife -- that is to say, the movie could be read as saying that he is acting on desires he is able to identify in her that she cannot see herself. Some have called the movie unimpeachable evidence of Hitchcock's hatred of women, others have said it is one of his great masterpieces. What do you think?

Watch the scene in question below, and go to the free screening tonight at 6 p.m. at the Central Library, which also includes a discussion with critic Walter Chaw.

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