Thursday, 27 March 2014

Film review "Vertigo" by Jacob Henderson (CPE level)

Vertigo - 1958 - James Stewart, Kim Novak.

Hitchcock's most personal film.

Vertigo, adapted from the French novel D'entre Les Morts, is, according to Hitchcock himself, the directors´ most personal film; one centred around obsession and deceit. Scottie Ferguson (Stewart) retires from his position as a private investigator after an incident which reveals his fear of heights; vertigo. After retiring Scottie is lured into another case by an old friend, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore), who asks Scottie to tail his wife who he suspects of being possessed by the spirit of a woman from the past. Elster's wife, Madeleine (Novak), is stunningly beautiful and after tracking her movements for some time Scottie begins to fall in love with her. As the film progresses, twists and turns in the plot reveal more and more about each character resulting in a whirlwind thriller that is widely considered to be one of the greatest movies of all time.

Where to begin with such an iconic film and director. I've wanted to review a Hitchcock film for a while but struggled to pick which film to start with. I eventually landed on Vertigo due to its depth, controversy and sheer brilliance. Vertigo had an extensive production time due to problems concerning casting (Hitch wanted to cast Vera Miles, but the role went to Novak after Miles got pregnant.) and prolonged illness to the director. This unpredictable and unwanted start to production on the film pushed Hitch and made Vertigo a very personal project.
When I first watched this film, which was some years ago, the first thing that struck me was the soundtrack. The powerful and compelling music provided by Bernard Herrmann adds an extra tone to the picture which compliments the trials and tribulations on screen perfectly; creating another dimension that without which would not have resulted in the film that it is.

With Vertigo, Hitchcock has masterfully created a technically brilliant film that plays on a confrontation of colours with the reds of Scottie and the greens of Madeleine forming a visual dimension that is missing from many modern day thrillers. Directors of late don't tend to go into the depth that the likes of Hitchcock went into which in my opinion is a real shame. If more directors went into more depth and added elements to their film-making, I believe the thriller genre would get back to a higher level of appreciation. In recent years I feel the genre has been viewed simply in terms of entertainment and the art has been lost.
In terms of Hitchcock's oeuvre Vertigo is not his most entertaining film, feeling quite slow at times, however, the film is technically brilliant with a plot that takes the viewer on a thrilling ride that investigates the nature of human obsession and deceit. Vertigo is a classic that should be watched by all.



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