Having previously seen Vertigo about two years ago, my opinion of it has certainly been altered after watching the film a second time. After my first viewing, I felt robbed. The plot line was not cohesive, the ending was abrupt, and Jimmy Stewart’s character was incredibly irritating. However, I definitely needed that second viewing to appreciate the film’s artistic value. While I personally do not rank is as high as the #1 movie ever, I understand the rating. With the second viewing, I had more time to pick up on smaller cinematographic details, as opposed to being wrapped up in the extensive plot line. I can now appreciate Kim Novak’s versatility as an actress in this film, along with Jimmy Stewart’s portrayal of a psychopath. During my first viewing, I struggled with the way Scottie treats Judy, him wanting to completely change her, even though she does technically understand why he is doing what he is doing. Because of this, I think this movie is a bit unsavory to my generation as an audience, as opposed to the generation actually rating these films. Alternatively, I can now view Scottie as a character haunted by Madeline, and the disconnect between the way he treats Judy and the way he actually is, as he is seen in the beginning of the movie towards Midge, almost as if they are not the same character. So, to anyone who had trouble watching this movie, I recommend giving it another chance.
While The British Film Institute ranked Vertigo as being the best film of all time, I had a different opinion. My opinion was similar to those that were published in 1958 after the release of the film in that I felt indifferently about it, and it really didn’t have much of an impact on me, or on many of my classmates it seems. The New York Times review of Vertigo didn’t offer much praise and described it as a typical Hitchcock melodrama, performed in the exact way you would expect a Hitchcock film to be (Crowther). If this film truly deserved to be ranked at the top, I feel as if it would have been necessary to have something new and uncommon for Hitchcock that would have made it unique. Overall, I found the film to be rather depressing with very few uplifting scenes- mainly ones with Midge who isn’t even present for most of the film. The relationship between Scottie and Judy was especially sad, and I even found it hard to watch. Despite Scottie having gone through the things he went through, I still find him unsympathetic. His behavior towards Judy was very cruel, and he barely even acknowledged her existence until she transformed to be an exact copy of Madeline. Scottie would barely even touch Judy until every last detail of the transformation was correct. Furthermore, it was very heartbreaking that Judy would have agreed to anything to get Scottie to love her back; she even asked him at one point if he would love her if she did everything be insisted upon. Finally, I thought the ending was rushed and upsetting. In my opinion, she jumped because she knew that either she live her life with someone who would never love her or end it at that moment. The fact that she believed she had no better options ended the movie on a depressing note.
I really liked Vertigo. The acting and the directing were amazing. I can see why scholars name this one of the most influential films of all time. I think the shots that Hitchcock used were fantastic. I like how it looked when Scottie was hanging on for dear life. I also loved the scene at the end when he seems to overcome his vertigo and follow Madeline/Judy up the tower. This film is the most personal to Hitchcock because of the way Scottie controls Judy and the way he tries to make her into Madeline. This film also takes a look into the theory of voyeurism and gaze. Laura Mulvey is a strong feminist who is not a particular fan of Hitchcock’s work. She observes Vertigo and thinks that when Scottie stalks Madeline/Judy that he is objectifying her. Mulvey thinks that men always look at women in a dirty way and the women are always objectified. I do not agree with Mulvey’s statements. A woman could just as easily gaze at a man in a way that objectifies him. I somewhat agree with Mulvey, but only to a degree. I think men can look at women in a way that objectifies them (pornography), but women also have the power to do this as well. I don’t think women are as innocent as Mulvey makes them out to be. They aren’t always the victim.
I did not really like the movie and I don’t think it should of been as acclaimed as it was. I don’t particularly care for the film’s symbolism – Saul Bass’s spirograph credits for instance, the nightmare sequence, or about San Francisco or what it means. Furthermore, Laura Mulvey criticizes the film with her Gaze Theory when she say’s, ” starting point the way film reflects, reveals and even plays in the straight, socially established interpretation of sexual difference that controls images, erotic ways of looking and spectacle.” I disagree with Mulvey because I feel I have a different interpretation than a man does, thus I do not feel any pleasure from looking when a male probably would. However, I thought it was interesting how Hitchcock utilized technology in the film. For instance the silent sequence of Scottie tailing Madeleine. The camera floats, when it follows the pale car, when Kim Novak appears like she is a ghost, or when Scottie is just a floating head. Also, the animation in the credits was quite revolutionary for the time. So, I would rate this film somewhere in the middle of the rest of the Hitchcock films I have seen.
Deutelbaum, Marshall. “A Closer Look at Scopophilia:Mulvey, Hitchcock, and Vertigo.” In A Hitchcock Reader. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1986. (P. 234)
Some critics will say that Psycho is the best film of all time. It is one Hitchcock’s most well known films. Even to the most recent generations, it has gotten to the point where many people recognize the shower murder scene but may not even know it’s source. The sheer amount of pop culture references the scene has generated are too numerous to count. That being said, Vertigo has claimed that spot, and this rightfully so. Vertigo as a film was Hitchcock’s most effective and potent personal commentaries. The main character has an unhealthy obsession with the leading lady of the film, forcing her to change for him. “Many agree it is Hitchcock’s most effective and personal commentary on his medium, the spell of cinema and his role in it” (Rhik Samadder). This is eerily reminiscent of the “Hitchcock Blonde” syndrome. It is also unique in the fact that Scottie’s main hindrance is a medical condition, something not imposed on him. It is not a villain, or an outside force contradicting his desires, it is his own body. This, along with the film’s apparent obsession with the inevitability of death adds extra layers to the entire tone of the film.
–The link to the critical article I agree with can be found in the hyperlink of Rhik Samdder’s quote.
Hitchcock was able to do what many filmmakers fail to do over a course of a career in one film. Create a complete film. Sounds simple, but for the lives of many films and filmmakers this idea is usually never seen. Vertigo, from start to finish is a full movie experience that ties in story to technique to his infamous “Hitchcockian” style to fortify his film into one of the greatest films of all time. But not the best.
The New Yoker’s Richard Brody, gives insight,” there would be no “Vertigo” if not for “Kane.” Brody pleads that Citizen Kane, that recently held the title for greatest film of all time should have held it’s spot for number one. My opinion shifts gears from what should be the number one movie of all time into a different question. What defines the best movie of all time? Surely, each film has different things in what it trying to accomplish, but to assert that one movie accomplishes more things or more important things is tough to say. For me, Vertigo is Hitchcock’s best film, it it what he imagined and he fulfilled it to the maximum. Debate will linger on whether it was or is the greatest film ever, but to me no film can hold that award, for no two films should be compared under the same standards.
I don’t think Vertigo is deserving of such praise to be called the best movie ever made. The protagonist wasn’t very likable and the driving shots were painfully boring. Overall, it was still a good film, but not the best. The article I found shows other lists than the Critics’ Top Ten films (where Vertigo reigns above all), such as Directors’ Top Ten. The critic list is the only one to put Vertigo so high up. Of all of Hitchcock’s films, something like Psycho, The Birds, or North by Northwest comes to mind when thinking of what his ‘masterpiece’ should be. Being from my generation, my list of the Top Ten Greatest Films would likely, include Die Hard and Halloween, but I can see how critics seem to favor older movies like fine wines in their construction of these lists. Everything seems better in the past.
According to the British Film institute and many critiques, Vertigo is Alfred Hitchcock’s film and the greatest film of all time. This claim I believe is false. I will admit, Vertigo did use some unique filming aspects as Laurie Boeder says in her critique on Vertigo ” Vertigo used camera angles and techniques innovative for its time, and much copied in later years”. I personally liked the use of zooming in and out to simulate the fear of heights. The film also had a very interesting and cool introduction. However this is not enough to make a film good, let alone great. In order for a film to be great it has to be more than just technical aspects that catch the trained eye. It has to capture the hearts of the ordinary viewer. The plot was lacking in speed and depth. To most viewers today, it would be a pain to watch because of its slowness. A film should be timeless, but Vertigo was sufficient for its time. Alfred Hitchcock’s film “Rear Window” would be best suited for the title of Greatest Hitchcock Film. “Rear Window” had a fantastic plot with great characters and it had unique and brand new technical aspects that made it a film not just centered on its plot. This film could hold the attention of my generation and deserves the title much more
I think Vertigo is a masterpiece. The ambiguous themes and sudden twists make it a film that deserves its spot in (at least) the top one hundred films ever made (though these lists tend to be very subjective and will never be perfect). I find it strange however, that it is generally depicted as the film that defines Hitchcockian themes and elements. In my opinion, Vertigo is a classic movie, but it is also the least Hitchcockian. Its thematic elements subvert the typical suspense/ thriller / even horror genres that Hitchcock is so well known for, and rather explore questions about love: what is true love, how far can someone go to find it before it becomes wrong, among others. It also more epic in scale and very complex– there are no straightforward chases or runaways (The 39 Steps, Blackmail). Additionally, much like the title insists, the conflict is all internal– there area no hidden bodies (Psycho, Rope), and no major antagonist (Notorious, Strangers on a Train). Much has been read into this movie about how this movie displays the most about Hitchcock’s inner psyche, but as far as the actual movie plot and themes are concerned, I think this is the least Hitchcockian; nonetheless, it is his magnum opus, and its influence on film culture will last forever.
When simply viewing the movie on a literal level, it would appear to be no more than simply boring. The main character, Scottie is would appear to be no more than an ordinary guy who has a serious obsession with a woman with whom he saved. His character is very boring, and James Stewart in my opinion did not do a very great job in portraying his character.
Now on a different note, when analyzing this movie on a subliminal level, there is much much more there than first meets the eye. HItchcock is really using movie to bring to light some of his own deep subconscious.
Is the movie great? It really all depends on the way you are viewing it. Viewers in the modern day most likely are not getting all that Hitchcock was putting down. We simply most likely are not viewing it the way it was intended to be viewed. Is it on a Psycho level? I don’t think so. Simply due to the fact that Psycho is timeless.