Vertigo Movie by: Alfred Hitchcock
Vertigo is one of the classic films of Alfred Hitchcock. Its genre can be defined as a thriller with elements of the detective. The plot of the movie bases on the novel From Among the Dead written by Boileau and Narcejac. This artwork an innovative picture because it contained outstanding filming elements and unpredictable development of the plot. Despite the fact that the film critics did not acknowledge Vertigo during the life of Hitchcock, later it was defined as one of the best works of the director. The paper analyzes the significance of the theme, directing, and screenplay of the film.
The plot tells the story of John Ferguson who his friends simply call В‘Scotty.В’ He is a former police officer. Once, when chasing the criminal on the roof, his friend John slips and falls from the roof in front of Scotty’s eyes. Since then, the hero experiences fear of height and ceases to hold office. Then, his old friend asks Ferguson to follow his wife Madeleine who is prone to suicide. After some time of deliberation, the protagonist gets involved in the case.
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In the movie, Hitchcock uses his favorite technique that could be defined as a fall. The main character of the movie falls from his chair when dreaming, the police officer falls from the roof, and Madeleine and Judy fall from the bell tower. The fall itself has a special meaning that defines the problem of Scotty and the main idea of the film. In Vertigo, Scotty says, В“I wake up at night seeing that man fall from the roof and I try to reach out to him, it’s just…В” (1958). It is the reflection of the primary source, so the theme of the film refers to a pair of В‘life-death.В’ The main character has the fear that scares him to death, and he is not able to save the life.
In the credits, the viewers could see different parts of the womanВ’s face. An image of a woman created of two parts is an allusion to different women united by a common feature. In addition, there are many spiral forms in Vertigo such as the hairstyle of the mysterious Medellin, stairs to the bell tower, the circles on the tree. The form of the spiral has many symbolic interpretations. However, in this picture, this form is like the ripples from a fallen stone. The audience may perceive the nature of the movie as a mental state rather than the actual reality (Makkai, 2013, p. 105). Expanding the plot of the film, Hitchcock makes the audience to change the identification point several times. The first part of Vertigo, from the very beginning to the death of Madeleine, is presented from the protagonistВ’s point of view, a detective Scottie Fergusson. Thereby, the viewer wonders where and why Madeleine went, and what the woman in the portrait means. Along with the main character, the spectators may experience great fear of height and the inability to attain the object of desire. Hitchcock makes the viewers sympathize with Scotty Ferguson understanding his fear of height.
Considering the filming process, the first frame of the film is almost abstract which depicts a horizontal line on the background of the city at night. The chase scene is capacious exposition briefly providing the viewers with all the background information about a town, an occupation of the main character, and the immediate cause of his trauma and retirement. Regarding camera shooting, the most difficult part was to create the famous picture of vertigo when Scotty looked down the stairs. The unique combination of optical zoom, used in the mentioned scene, was also called В‘the Vertigo effectВ’ in cinematography (Makkai, 2013, p. 112). During this scene, space simultaneously is approaching and receding, as if obeying the logic of a nightmare. Furthermore, the movie contains an impressive art installation in the episode when the main character follows his friendВ’s wife in a green car. The scene makes the audience confused as they cannot say whether it is the right car or not. Hitchcock amazingly delivers the game of colors. The acid green and red tones create an atmosphere of extraterrestrial, paranormal horror in the everyday environment. In addition, Hitchcock obscures the overall background with black color when it comes to something terrible and mysterious and highlights the beauty of the characters with a bright light.
The famous playwright Maxwell Anderson was creating the script for the film with the working title Darkling I Listen. Hitchcock was unhappy with the result and referred to the professional screenwriter Alec Koppel. However, the second version was neither satisfying for Hitchcock. When Samuel Taylor started writing his script, the director accepted his idea of turning the movie into a kind of guide to San Francisco (Makkai, 2013, p. 93). Using TaylorВ’s screenplay, Hitchcock has embodied an immense amount of puzzles and secret manipulations in his work. Thus, he discovered a brand new cinema. Classic thriller became a space where through the detective and mysterious story the hero learns and meets an unknown side of his personality. The spectator, along with the hero, walks through the dark corridors of the unexplained mysteries of subconsciousness.
To conclude, Hitchcock uses his favorite technique referred to as a fall. It has a special meaning which defines the main idea of the film. Expanding the plot of the film, Hitchcock makes the audience change the identification point several times. He makes the audience afraid of height when revealing all the fears of Scotty Ferguson. Using Samuel TaylorВ’s script, Hitchcock has embodied a great number of different puzzles and secret manipulations in his work creating a brand new cinema.