Vertigo ★★★★★

Director Project

Director: Alfred Hitchcock (Third Film)

There is certainly something different about Vertigo when compared to his other films. It feels like a Hitchcock film, but at the same time, it doesn't. There's a different mood emanating from the pores of the film, something that is inherently ugly in a predestined baroque style.

Because of this feeling that I could not shake off during the film, the idea that whatever occurrences occurred within the film, it was all just mere occurrence for the sake of a later occurrence. In other words, the film used various contrivances throughout the film in order to arrive at a particular point in the film. Which at the halfway point, completely sets up the film for its finale; a particular moment which involves a huge release from an otherwise cumbersome pressure - in particular on the shoulders of Judy.

Judy being the object of obsession, the obsession of course coming from John "Scottie" Ferguson (James Stewart) whose desire for her to replicate Madeleine's exact image in represented in the attire of the two personae. When Judy is Judy, her clothes are obviously comfortable with her wearing a green sweater not too dissimilar to the one Scottie was wearing when he and Madeleine first interact in the first part of the film. This particular choice of attire for me, represents the freedom at those particular moments but also simultaneously indicates that there is something amiss. Green often coinciding with bizarre focused images which outright, and very often stand out in blotches of grey and other dull colours.

Which, funnily enough, is the colour of restriction and the colour of the dress which Madeleine often wears. A tight, restricting dress indicative of not being under her own control, or being possessed, and likewise as an object, being obsessed by Scottie. This is further indicated by Scottie's insistent obsessive desire to dress up Judy as Madeleine, representing the tightening restricting vines which slowly strangle away her freedom, and slowly kill her personality. A particular trait of hers which Scottie does not give a hoot about anyway, his obsession stems from image, and image alone. He is not compatible with Madeleine, and his falling in love with her, although strange considering the circumstances and having little time to actually know her, is understandable, yet as farcical as some of Hitchcock's contrivances.

However, a match for Scottie exists in character, as Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes) being the same age as him (supposedly) being the only character who really, genuinely cares for him, for who he is. She cares for his health, and in an early scene it is shown that she loves him truly. Whether Judy or Madeleine really love Scottie is under question in my eyes, certainly, he is charming and undoubtedly an attractive man (He also kisses weirdly, a sort of cuddling infused into a weird squashed faced, face eating thing) but it's still a bizarre circumstance nonetheless. It's a contrived plot point, but like I wrote before, it's there for a purpose.

Bernard Hermann's composed score which directs us without subtlety, points towards a doomed relationship. His score at particular moments reaches out and slaps us in the face, waking us up from any illusion that this is real. This is fake, this isn't real, and this weird bizarre relationship is equally fake.

The opening 30 minutes or so, which involves Scottie following Madeleine around is exquisitely slow. Slow enough to take everything in, and slow enough to really gauge the quickly developing relationship between two characters who have yet to even interact each other in the slightest. It's entirely based on image, but Hitchcock does everything here so artistically and so otherworldly, in a way I've never seen any of his other films do before.

Either way, I fear that I've babbled my way through this review, I suppose an indication of how much I liked it. I also fear that I've missed out a few important points I desired to talk about, such as the strange lighting in places (the book store where it suddenly retches into darkness, and when we first see Judy as Madeleine) and the daedalean narrative, and the equally complex characters who are real in spite of the surroundings being fairly (obviously) spurious. The film is probably Hitchcock's most personal film, and indications suggest very personal. It's a very honest, and self-aware and even courageous film which works on so many different levels, twirling and all.

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