Vertigo Screen 21 articles

Vertigo

1958

Vertigo Poster
  • The distracting satirical episode (the relationship between the detective and the designer) is treated with a no less subtle humor and prevents our feet from ever leaving the ground. These casual asides are not simply meant as a balancing act: They help us better understand the character, by making his madness more familiar, changing it from a state of madness to a certain deviation of the mind, a mind whose nature may be to turn in circles.

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    The Village Voice: Molly Haskell
    June 10, 1971 | The Village Voice Film Guide (pp. 285-290)

    [Watching the film is] a vertiginous experience, a descent into a maelstrom of conflicting responses, a dizzying flight through mental space in which you reach out for touchstones like positive and negative, healthy and sick (Hitchcock's vision, after all, is profoundly moral), and at the same time realize the uselessness of all such labels outside a normal frame of reference.

  • One of the landmarks—not merely of the movies, but of 20th-century art... The famous motif of the fall is presented in horizontal rather than vertical space, so that it becomes not a satanic fall from grace, but a modernist fall into the image, into the artwork—a total absorption of the creator by his creation, which in the end is shown as synonymous with death. [...It's an] extraordinarily dense and commanding film, perhaps the most intensely personal movie to emerge from the Hollywood cinema.

  • The entire second part of the film, on the other side of the mirror, is nothing but a mad, maniacal attempt to deny time, to recreate through trivial yet necessary signs (like the signs of a liturgy: clothes, make-up, hair) the woman whose loss [Scottie] has never been able to accept. His own feelings of responsibility and guilt for this loss are mere Christian Band-Aids dressing a metaphysical wound of much greater depth.

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    The Village Voice: J. Hoberman
    October 15, 1996 | The Village Voice Film Guide (pp. 290-292)

    Vertigo is not without its dark humor, but it is an intensely, almost shockingly, romantic movie: like bereft Heathcliff in the second half of Wuthering Heights, shell-shocked Scottie pleads with his lost love to haunt him. And once she does return from the dead—her kiss obliterating time and space as Hermann works variations on Wagner's Tristan und Isolde—the movie's own current resurrection becomes secondary.

  • I can think of no film that makes romance more palpable and affecting... The compositions and colors are profoundly alluring — never has Hitchcock's famously preplanned imagery been more sensual and seductive. But every image is also undermined by a deep instability: sensuous colors, shifting camera angles, and the inward-directed camera movements all create an imbalance that denies the viewer any film ground.

  • I consider Vertigo to be the crest of Hitch’s art of self-revelation. Its critical and commercial failure sent the director back into the recesses of a canny detachment. As much as I enjoy North by Northwest (1959), and as much as I admire Psycho, I can’t help feeling that the Liebestod of Vertigo represents one of the sweetest and most profound expressions of romantic melancholy in the history of the medium.

  • This Stewart character is not a happy drunk. He’s closer to psychotic. This collaboration between Stewart and Hitchcock pushes the model American male over the brink into a terrifying space, and it’s all the more effective because of Stewart’s prior film history and the warping made possible by it.

  • It's a movie about memory that actually improves the more you go over its folds. This time, returning to the deluxe 1996 restoration, I noticed a masterful symmetry: Scottie, quietly on the case, follows Madeleine into the hazy, greenish sunlight of a cemetery. Later, she'll emerge from yet another green haze, a neon light, walking out of death's grip into his arms. Do directors even think about things like that anymore?

  • Stewart's great performance doesn't fully delineate Scottie anymore than Hitchcock attempts to tell a naturalistic story, and his elusive affliction(s) are a large part of what makes the film compelling on re-viewings. Is his vertigo a metaphor? For what?

  • The irrepressible allure of Hitchcock’s visual extravagance—his baroque swirl of caustic greens, voluptuous purples, acidic yellows, and fiery reds, and the indecent glare of daylight—conjures a vortex of unconscious desires beyond the realm of dramatic machinations; his happy ending, of health restored and crime punished, resembles an aridly monastic renunciation.

  • Though commonly understood chiefly as a vehicle for the psychological deconstruction of Scottie, Vertigo is in fact one of the most comprehensive studies of two people in the history of cinema. Both main characters - specifically, Scottie of the first half and Judy of the second - are without a fixed identity, prepared to be malleable entities to achieve what they desire yet simultaneously hiding some aspect of their inner life.

  • For me romanticism is the key to Hitchcock’s unequalled capacity to unsettle and move the spectator with a degree of implication and intensity that goes beyond a supposed ‘identification’ with the protagonist – an identification that Hitchcock tended to rupture violently and traumatically, and which in general was projected not on to a single (male) person, but on to the couple, at least.

  • If cinema is a dream, Vertigo is its nightmare. What is it that makes this delirious tale of obsession and psychosis so stick in the craw? Surely there are other films, masterpieces even, which tell of dark, doomed romance, but perhaps never with such all-consuming rapture.

  • Is it really so hard to imagine that by far the artiest of Hitchcock’s films—practically a chamber duet, and one with a couple false finales—is the one that the midcentury modernists hoist above all others? It’s a chase film, full of lingering shots of Scottie observing and Madeleine being observed (with a hall of mirrors extending into a portrait on one side and the camera on the other) that gradually defines its subject and object as players in the artistic process.

  • Brilliant but despicably cynical view of human obsession and the tendency of those in love to try to manipulate each other.

  • Despite its massive popularity and canonization as the classic film, VERTIGO remains one of the most insidious, disturbing movies of all time, particularly as it relates to the tortuous labyrinth of the psyche. Out of all the films in the Hitchcock oeuvre, VERTIGO resonates with the most Freudian overtones.

  • Vertigo does a number of things astoundingly well. The double structure is a stroke of genius, with the film’s first half producing a terribly compelling thriller, and the second opening up Jimmy Stewart’s Scottie in a way that reveals his motivations while illuminating his true colorus... Yet at the core of the film sits a love story that, for a modern audience, is virtually impossible to abide.

  • Dive (or fall) deeper into Vertigo and it’s clear the reasons for the film’s enduring influence extend far beyond its ample surface pleasures. Hitchcock counted this as the most personal of his works, and it plays as a self-lacerating roman à clef, a deeply felt dramatization of the dark side of his filmmaking practice—the voyeuristic concerns of Rear Window (1954) pushed to their extreme.

  • James Stewart is the embodiment of the anti-hero – as he already was in Rear Window (1954) and The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) – and he finds himself falling for Kim Novak as the archetype of the femme fatale. But what makes Vertigo different is how this love affair exposes the weaknesses and failings of these two people – to the point that everyone can identify with it. That’s the power of love according to Hitch.

  • I'd forgotten the twist—that it is, in fact, the same woman—and had thusly forgotten the implications of illusion in this story. But the real revelation is that the movie turns much of its argument about illusion on its head in that moment. The ways the desire of the performer, and the psychological demands of the audience, get tangled up here are truly frightening. It's a horror movie, and a sad one at that. I simply hadn't remembered it that way.

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