Vertigo in the Top 50

Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo made it to the top of the British Film Institute’s ranking of the fifty most important films ever made. Though younger crowds might overlook this film today, during the time of its release, the techniques used including unique plot twists, selective color usage and new camera angles had never before been seen. In Martin Scorsese’s essay about the importance of this movie to the filmmaking industry, he writes, “any film as great as Vertigo demands more than just a sense of admiration — it demands a personal response.” Later in the essay, Scorsese writes that, “Morality, decency, kindness, intelligence, wisdom — all the qualities that we think heroes are supposed to possess — desert Jimmy Stewart’s character little by little.” Hitchcock gave his character flaws, making him more relatable to the viewer and forever changed the meaning of the hero in any movie. This role would no longer be such a cookie-cutter one to play; it would be more than one-sided.

In Vertigo, characters are not always who they seem to be and not everyone the audience believes to be deceased actually is. Hitchcock tricks the audience multiple times showing everyone who views the film that they cannot always trust their own beliefs to be correct. Saul Bass created an opening sequence unlike any other before it and a score written by Bernard Herrmann added another dimension to the entire experience. Every aspect of the film was carefully and masterfully planned out; earning Vertigo it’s top ranking in the British Film Institute’s list of the fifty most important movies.


Scorsese, Martin. “Why Vertigo Is Truly Great.” The Guardian. March 5, 1999. Accessed November 7, 2014.

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