Vertigo is one of classic movies that audiences watched in sixties. This psychological thriller movie is directed by Alfred Hitchcock. This paper intends to discuss vertigo and further examines how several filmic elements illustrate a significant psychoanalytic issue in the movie, vertigo.
Vertigo, like other Hitchcock made movies, appears to be influenced by 1920’s movement of art and film that used to focus on conducting experiment as well as use of imagination. One prominent idea, which strikes into mind after watching vertigo, is the portrayal of an ideal woman by Hitchcock. Hitchcock seems to be very attached with the character of Judy and he chose Kelly who was most appropriate for this role and was also very close to him on one juncture.
When the movie starts, sound opens like a prologue. Scottie, who was suffering from a phobia of heights, appears in a scene that portrays his guilt because of some one’s death. Scottie, who is also hero of this film, appears as usually heroes appear in Hitchcock films. Male hero feels what viewers feel, and he sees what other do see. Hero, in vertigo, portrays the tensions and imbroglios that common viewers feel (Vertigo, 1958).
The appearance and dressing of the hero connects him to the plot of the story. Hitchcock gives a special kind of identity to his hero that appears portraying his ideological obligations and personality. Hitchcock, in all his films, portrays his heroes in a dynamic and cinematic way. Heroes in his movies appear as one who is dominating and symbolizes power. Vertigo is one more example of Hitchcock’s movies of this line.
Subjective camera preponderates in the movie vertigo and the whole narrative is knitted around the hero, what he sees and what he does not see. A flash back though is captured by Judy’s perspective but that is all. Viewers also feel and what they are catered by Hitchcock and that is hero’s erotic fascination and everything else from his perspective. His Voyeurism is unashamed everywhere. Scottie feels infatuated with one woman and without any permission he starts following and spying on her (Vertigo, 1958).
Scottie also reveals his sadistic characteristic and uses all traits that he was able to use while in pursuit of that woman. He follows the woman, spies her and feels infatuated. When Scottie actually meets her, he relentlessly interrogates and forces her to satisfy his ego and to prove his authority. As story progresses and second part begins, Scottie reenacts the infatuation and attachment that he has inside. Scottie reenacts Judy like Madeleine and compels her to obey and accept everything that he said to her in order to satisfy his engrossment.
Scottie finds Madeline perfect because of her masochism and Scottie's blatant voyeurism dominates his whole personality. Madeline was aware what she had to do in order to keeping Scottie’s interest alive but at a point of time, she weakens and exposed before Scottie. His inquisitiveness dominates and Madeline gets the chastisement. Erotic connection in Hitchcock's movie is bewildering with appearances (Vertigo, 1958). A viewer find himself confused at times as narrative makes him feel that he himself is passing through all these things.
Hitchcock’s hero is adhere with his ideas and carries all the characteristics that make him a patriarchal egoistic. A viewer may feel himself exposed who is unnecessary stuck in ambiguities. Hitchcock focuses on sexual distinctions and symbolizes male fragile sense of dominance. Marnie, another character, appears to be the same as Scottish and he possesses all the characteristics that Scottish has and who finds himself unable to prevent anything that is wrong or should not happen. Marney is a powerful man who is in position to do anything, he wants because he has money and he has power.
Madeline in this movie is portrayed as attentive and irritated by voyeurism of men. She does not hesitate from stopping or intervening when she considers it objectionable. She has been portrayed as a feminist and one who is not happy with their position in this man made society. Madeline does not only object their wrong behavior but also feels that this behavior should be changed (Vertigo, 1958). Hitchcock has presented this character as heroine and through her conveys bigger messages among viewers.
Alfred Hitchcock has presented his own trademarked formula of and connects it with audiences in order to express what he wants to convey. The dialogues are well placed and selection of words is again very impressive that expresses a lot. Dialogues are brief yet very expressing and say a lot. Dialogues are accompanied by expressions and gestures that make every scene very impressive and memorable. Audiences feel intrigued and watch carefully without letting anybody noise.
Madeline expresses her agony in these words, “Walking down a long corridor that that once was mirrored, and fragments of that mirror still hang there. And when I come to the end of the corridor there . . . . there is nothing but darkness. And I know that when I walk into that darkness, that I‘ll die” (Vertigo, 1958). Hitchcock is known for the dialogues in his films and these dialogues express the actual essence of the story. Vertigo is full of mind twisting dialogues that a viewer finds mysterious yet understands the meaning because of the scenes and expression of characters of the film.
Camera work is impressive and Hitchcock's technical mastery is visible everywhere. The camera and technical aspect of vertigo is astounding and the same keeps audiences calm in their chairs. When Scottie follows Judy and camera floats on him, it became a memorable scene for the viewers. Several other scenes that portray emotional and mystery scenes are portrayed in very impressive and camera work is marvelous. Cinematography has always been a strong part of Hitchcock’s movies and vertigo is no exception (Vertigo, 1958).
Cinematography is very strong part of vertigo ad the same can be sensed by watching a number of scenes of the movie. In a scene, when Judy reveals about her, Hitchcock frames her head and camera turns suddenly and leaves curdled people’s blood. Several scenes suggest the excellence of cinematography and camera’s catch also proves Judy right when she blames men’s voyeurism (Vertigo, 1958).
Camera shows what men want to see and it is easy to remember the scenes when Novak’s eyes slip and audiences realize that they are also voyeuristic. The unforgettable or perhaps forgettable moment comes appears before viewers when in an excruciating moment, Judy is shown dead on the road. When Madeline falls from the tower, camera did splendid job in filming the scene.
Costume selection in the movie is fantastic and all characters appear in perfect attires. When Madeleine appears first time after Judy disappears, she was looking amazing in the film and her dress was soothing. Scottie always appears in very suitable attires that also depict about his personality and character. His dress suggests a lot about what is going inside his head. Scottie is portrayed as a dominating man in this story and the costume that he wears, depicts this part out of him.
Sound in this movie has been used to depict and highlight the mystery of scenes. When Scottie follows Judy, there is a silence but also there is a music that sounds in a way which highlights the sense of silence. When Madeline falls from the tower, a special sound is used to highlight the gravity of the scene. Sound and music enhances the significance of several scenes of the movie, vertigo.
Vertigo is a director movie and Hitchcock dictates every scene and every character I the movie. He is the one who plays role of all the characters simultaneously and on one appears to be applying his own sense. Hitchcock is the ring master of his movies and every character just follows what the director says. Vertigo is an example of Hitchcock’s excellent direction and viewers analyze his previous films every time they watch any new movie in order to compare and decide which one is better (Vertigo, 1958).
After having observed the succinct view of the film vertigo, it can be concluded that this is one perfect movie where every part from sound to camera and characters to costume is very fine and the direction of Alfred Hitchcock does the rest everything. There is a lot to learn for new film makers from vertigo. Vertigo is a highly acclaimed movie and there are reasons why people still love this movie.
Vertigo. 1958. [English] Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. United States: Alfred Hitchcock.