Vertigo: The Masterpiece??


My views on the film Vertigo are slightly mixed. The first time I watched the film I was very disappointed. I knew that this film was supposed to be Hitchcock’s masterpiece and I was supremely let down when I viewed the film. I didn’t really understand the plot and didn’t care for the main character, Scottie which was played by James Stewart. I agree that Hitchcock’s cinematography and tricks with the camera were masterfully done, but that did not help with the plot of the film. I was not surprised to hear, in our first discussion of the film, that it did not do well in the box-office. However, when we discussed the film further and what it meant, I understood everything a lot better. The main character, Scottie, trying to transform a new woman into the woman he lost was basically the story of Hitchcock trying to find his perfect “Hitchcock blonde”. After this thought ruminated in my mind and I thought about how this story was about Hitchcock himself and it was also the first time he showed any sympathy towards women in his films, I thought that I may want to watch the film again with this new perspective. I have to say, after watching it again I felt a much greater appreciation for the film, itself. After discussing, in the class, the meaning behind the film I could better understand the “masterpiece”, however this also made me dislike the film. A “masterpiece” to me and to be number one on the list of “Best Films of All Time” should be a film that has a message all audiences can understand. To me, the message in Vertigo is better understood by people of an earlier generation. To audiences of this generation, the film does not have as much of an appeal as it would to people of an older generation. In Robert Egbert’s review of the film, he describes it as, “one of the two or three best films Hitchcock ever made, and is the most confessional, dealing directly with the themes that controlled his art” (Egbert). Throughout his review, Egbert defends and congratulates Hitchcock on his work. However, to me, this film is great, but it does not deserve to be above Citizen Kane on the list of “Best Films of All Time”.

Ebert, Roger. “Vertigo Movie Review & Film Summary (1958) | Roger Ebert.” All Content. N.p., 13 Oct. 1996. Web. 07 Nov. 2014. <>.

4 thoughts on “Vertigo: The Masterpiece??

  1. lfremont

    I’m sad to hear you guys were disappointed by the movie, it definitely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. As we talked about in class, it might be a generational thing… Perhaps our views on the movie will be different after some time has passed? Or perhaps views on the movie as a “masterpiece” are completely changing? It’s interesting to think about.

  2. bwhipkey

    I find your analysis of Scottie’s attempt to transform one woman into another quite intriguing. To say that this could be Hitchcock commenting on his own desire to find the perfect “Hitchcock Blonde” was a possibility that I had not previously considered, though it does fit with Hitchcock’s often self-referential style. In regards to your argument that a great film must inherently be relatable to all audiences, I am forced to agree, though I had originally intended to attempt to refute your position. If, after all, the audience has little or no emotional connection to a film, then how can they say whether it is great or not? Film criticism, whether done by amateurs or experts, is not a purely objective field such as Mathematics; rather, it depends upon the sensations that the film in question effects on the viewer. Vertigo, though it pains me to admit it, no longer seems to be relevant when taken in a modern context.

  3. Alice White

    I agree with you about how Vertigo was disappointing to watch the first time and how discussion made it easier to understand and to appreciate. However, I did get at least a little something out of my first viewing, so I disagree with the thought that it doesn’t deserve to be on top of the list of the best films. In my opinion, the fact that you get more out of the second viewing and likely the third adds to the movie because it is something that I think I could look at during different times in my life and appreciate different things from it. That to me, in addiction to the amazing cinematography, makes it a masterpiece since it has a lasting

  4. ldanby

    I agree, when I first watched Vertigo I was disappointed. The story did not meet my expectations and for me I didn’t even like the movie until the last ten or so minutes. But same as you, the discussions in class gave me a better perspective on the film. While I still don’t know if it deserves to be on top, because like you said a masterpiece shouldn’t have to be explained, after the discussion I did appreciate the film more.

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