Apologies for posting a day early but I’m super busy tomorrow so thought I’d get it out of the way. This weeks film is Vertigo which recently overtook Citizen Kane to become Sight & Sound’s best film ever. It is a film I’ve seen several times and truly admire… so sorry if this review is a little biased!
Scotty (James Stewart) is a retired detective who is afraid of heights – also know as ‘vertigo’. When an old friends hires Scotty to investigate his deranged wife (Kim Novak) Scotty becomes scarily obsessed with her.
Everything in this film is fantastic. And I truly mean this; there are very little problems in this film and it is a perfect example of why Hitchcock is hailed as the master of suspense.
The film is essentially a culmination of all the experimental aspects of previous Hitchcock films containing the mysteriousness of The Lady Vanishes, whilst being as tense as Notorious and as haunting as Rebecca; all with a dream sequence that rivals the one in Spellbound.
From the start of the film the narrative and style are set up beautifully with the use of a ‘vertigo shot’, which uses a track and zoom simultaneously to mess with the perspective of the camera. It is a shot that was created for this film and one that has been homaged several times in major films such as Spielberg’s Jaws.
The films narrative is also extremely clever as it essentially ends are an hour and half with a huge twist; before beginning again with an even huger twist.
Although heavily criticized at the time (the film somehow failed at the Box Office) the performances of both the leads are sensational with Kim Novak standing out in the role of an insane woman.
The only problem that I could possibly think of when watching this film is that some people may find it to be a little boring at points. I’ve spoken to a friend and he agreed pointing out that there are long periods in which James Stewart simply drives his car around. These scenes are shot magnificently and build tension beautifully; however compared the fast pacedness of many modern thrillers, an audience member may become tired and lose interest.
Hitchcock makes a cameo about 10 minutes in, walking past the camera carrying some kind of instrument case.
Vertigo is the best film Hitchcock made and one of the best films ever made.