Vertigo:A tale of obsession https://www.facebook.com/WolffianclassicmoviesdigestAlfred Hitchcock’s VERTIGO is a movie that a film which functions on multiple levels simultaneously. One of the many movies that Hitchcock did in his lifetime was vertigo. It was not considered much of a masterpiece at the time. Vertigo is often considered Hitchcock’s most personal and emotional and complex of his movies. It is a tale of obsession that is Hitchcock’s best movie to my eyes.
The opening shot of vertigo has a woman’s lips then an eye as it’s a close up of a human eye as its A spinning hypnotic shape emerges from the eye with hypnotic music tells people they are about to be transported into another world. Scottie(James Stewart) is chasing down someone on a rooftop as it results in death of a policeman which leads to his retirement form the police force. detective John “Scottie” Ferguson retires. Scottie tries to conquer his fear, but his friend and ex-fiancée Midge Wood says that another severe emotional shock may be the only cure as he is trying to overcome his fear of vertigo form his last time as a detective. Its starts off this classic movie of obsession Scottie is asked to follow Madeleine(Kim Novak). This starts off the classic tale of vertigo.
Vertigo is a tale of two halves. It starts out as a ghost story as Once the prologue has introduced us to Ferguson’s fear of heights we start to enter into a dreamlike begining as we have Scottie tailing down Madeleine whom is convinced she is a reincarnation of Carlotta Valdes her grandmother. He follows her to a florist then to the the Mission San Francisco de Asís and the grave of Carlotta Valdes, and to an art museum where she gazes at the Portrait of Carlotta. He watches her enter the McKittrick Hotel, but on investigation she does not seem to be there as she is staring into space as she seems out of it. She truly does seem like she is in a daze. The next day we learn that it is believed she is possessed by Carlotta Valdes whom tragically committed suicide.
She is saved by Scottie at far point. It’s when they kiss at his apartment then the next day we see him and her hang out falling to her death. It then begins a tale of obsession as the film shifts into darker territory. As Scottie really does seem obsessed with her as he is visiting spots she visited as one day he meets he One day, he notices a woman who reminds him of Madeleine, despite her different appearance.
Scottie follows her and she identifies herself as Judy Barton, from Salina, Kansas. A flashback reveals her as Madeleine Elster as part of a murder plot. Gavin had deliberately taken advantage of Scottie’s acrophobia to substitute his wife’s freshly killed body in the apparent “suicide jump”. But Judy rips up the letter and continues the charade, because she loves Scottie. Scottie remains obsessed with Madeleine often having her dress as Madeleine to change clothes to please Scottie and his obsession. Hoping they find happiness together. She then wears the necklace as he insists she recreates the events at the mission as she is pushed off to her death again in a repeat of events. Its a tale of obsession that has nods to Dante’s inferno and feverish dreams take control with many different notions of color being played upon in its feverish dreamlike manner. It is a tale of obsession with an spine tingling ending. It’s a wonderful journey that Hitchcock and its crew took us upon in this classic gem.
Vertigo is a magnificent form the opening credits to its ending. Saul Bass’s title prepares us brilliantly for the movie which is about to unfold upon us. Bernard Herrmann’s musical score as the music is probably more important here than in most films, let alone most Hitchcock films. Because for most of the first half of the film and a great deal of the second half, it is without dialogue. In fact Kim Novak does not have a spoken line until about 48 minutes into the little more than 2 hour feature. She’s under James Stewart’s surveillance and the whole story of his growing obsession with her is told through his facial expressions and through Bernard Herrmann’s music. Bernard Herrmann’s score perfectly captures each mood of the movie as it elements of each part of this movie is captured wonderfully by Bernard Herman’s score if u turn off voice channel and watch it silent you will be amazed at how much it tells the story alone. The scene where the music helps with the flashes of green to reveal a girl of the past truly captures such a moment that reveals a truth. The musical score of Bernard Herrmann may be among his finest ever crafted.
The Cinematography by Robert Burks is one of the finest ever crafted to film as it captures San Francisco as it richly captures the city in such richness and depth. There is color filters that does many tricks such the changing of colors on many scenes in a feverish way is part of this movie. Its richly deep and dreamlike cinematography which richly captures the city in all its glory and beauty as the city by the bay never looked more lovely then it’s being shot in this movie. The famous zooming-in, dollying-out technique and an animated dream sequence. The dazzling imagery could be seen as prefiguring the influence of psychedelia a decade later, although really it is perhaps only the logical extension of the German Expressionist style. It’s only really an updated version of the superimposing of images and casting of shadows in films by Fritz Lang and FW Murnau and many noir classics before this movie coming into a modern feel. or this reason Hitchcock could be called one of the truest heirs of the German Expressionist movement, and not just for the psychological angle. It’s one of the best psychological thrillers ever crafted out on screen.
Jimmy Stewart gives a terrific performance in the role of Scottie a man recognizing his own limits, suffering by his acrophobia as When he is given the chance to pursue this enigmatic woman it give his life a new meaning. It’s such wonderful role that really does nail home an an accurate portrait of an annoyed human being searching for the unattainable. He is a pragmatic man dealing with events in the light of his intuition. I would say this performance is such a fine performance by such a wonderful actor. Kim Novak is so delicate as Madeleine as she gives us a fine perfomance as the defining Hitchcock blonde. This is truly a wonderful performance. The acting is top notch by everyone in the cast as they give such fine performances.
The direction by Hitchcock is truly a wonder. He crafted out one of the finest thrillers all time with such a tale that has so many layers and depths to it. It is Hitchcock’s finest directed and crafted out movie as he truly made this one of his most personal ever crafted out for screen with wonderful actors to match his wonderful direction. This to me is hitch’s finest movie he ever directed on the screen.
Jimmy Stewart plays the biggest anti-hero of his career and Kim Novak whose stunning beauty and exceptional personalities shine through this dark film. Barbara Bel Geddes provides great support as well. Everything about this film truly is marvelous form its cinematography, the story, the depth,acting,music all coming together to make this wonderfully crafted out marvel of a movie that stands among the best movies of all time. Vertigo is a masterpiece.