“Vertigo” is a 1958 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. A film about obsession. I would put it among the 5 greatest films ever made. I must confess here, that this blog is also inspired by this film. The showman of popular cinema, Mr. Hitchcock directed a remarkable sequence of films in a row, each of them a classic; Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960) and The Birds (1963). Never has a director made four such genuinely great movies in such a short space of time, either before or since. The pick of this high standard bunch is undoubtedly Vertigo. From the opening titles, with their circling spiral imagery, to the dramatic final scene this is a movie that takes you to a different time and place.
Talking too much about “Vertigo” is not a good idea. There’s too many obvious spoilers in recounting the plot of the film. “Vertigo” is a uniquely personal film, not only for Hitchcock, but for a broad array of viewers who, like me have latched onto its tragic story.
My favorite scene?
Well… There are many actually. A particular scene with mesmerizing camerawork is when James Stewart(Scottie) and Kim Novak hug. We see from Scottie’s point of view- the ghostly figure appears in the eerie green-tinged neon light reflected from the hotel sign outside the window. Her metaphysical, spiritual figure assumes solid shape as she moves out of the ghostly green light and crosses the floor to him, to embrace and kiss passionately. The camera pans and swirls around them (their background surroundings dissolve and place them in the livery stable in Scottie’s subjective imagination, a location very important to the film)- the sensation must be the same distorted but gratified feelings Scottie is experiencing- vertigo. Completely lost in the dream, overlapping fantasy and reality, the loving couple continue kissing in front of the pale, greenish haze of the window. Also the definitive dolly zoom effect (the camera is pulled away from a subject whilst the lens zooms in to create the “falling-away-from-oneself feeling”) on the staircase of the bell tower to create the vertigo dizziness.
This film is just breathtaking with all its visuals and its aura is just amazing. The cinematography and of course the directing and impeccable acting is just many of the ingredients to Hitchcock’s masterpiece. It is a cinematic masterpiece, it is one of the best pictures caught on film, so pure and enigmatic to film history, it flows like good wine, spirally- like the stuff that dreams are made of!