“Vertigo, Vertigo, Where for art thou, Vertigo”Review by Lewis Goodall
Vertigo, based on a novel D’entre les morts (From Among the Dead) by Boileau-Narcejac tells the story of a former police detective John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson (played by James ‘Jimmie’ Stewart’ who suffers from an intense fear of heights. He is picked up by an old college friend to help with one final case; To follow his beautiful wife Madeline Elster (played by Kim ‘no cool nickname’ Novak) who has been acting out of character. As the chase continues the story unfolds into places unimaginable.
I wont be saying a lot about this film without venturing into spoiler area because believe me this film is made by the spoilers. I will say one thing though, see this movie.
As per mentioned earlier, John Ferguson is a now retired police detective to which certain events have put him in this situation. His character is written with a lot of heart and played super well to portray this. James Stewart (although his face can make up to a whopping 3 facial expressions) plays the part of Scottie fantastically, showing a broken man who’s had his pieces glued back together to the point at which is seems like it will hold.
The films pace is something I felt was done smoothly to keep you engrossed with all the characters and their next movements which is really what a mystery film needs, well to be honest it’s what every film needs. So in terms of characters I feel all the characters perfectly progress the story in one way or another.
One thing to note which I had to appreciate is the use of colour in this film. Now the vibrancy and deliberate choice of colour in the film were small details engrained in your head to know what was on someone’s mind. As mentioned the case is to follow the lovely Madeline. The use of the colour green used towards Madeline was a subtle yet imaginative way to create other associations with that character; she drove a green car, wore a green dress, ate grass (she didn’t but maybe in a deleted scene somewhere). All this added up to create scenes where green started appearing with John to portray that she was getting to him. Maybe it’s all in my head and just a coincidence but I feel this was done intentionally by old Alfred and it was done perfectly.
Now this is a Hitchcock film, I’ve mentioned that and I feel as it’s Hitchcock I have to mention whether or not the tension was there. Now it could’ve been the pizza I ate beforehand but it was more than likely the film, but my heart was racing, especially during the last section (which I talk more about in the spoilers part), my heart was racing, I had sat up and my mouth was wide open. All the components of the films came together at the end for a big crescendo, the acting, the directing, the music, the everything was there and it’s there during the whole film, slowly building and building till the end. (There’s one part during the end where the camera was out of focus but I won’t mention that because the rest of it is so good)
In summary. This film was made by Alfred Hitchcock, that should be enough to get you to see this film anyway. It is a masterpiece with the right amount of everything, right music, the cinematography had moments of brilliance and there is a dream sequence in the film which is stunning and one of the reasons it is a classic today.
9 Plastic Horses out of 10
Now, my opinion on some of the spoilers in the film,
Essentially the story goes that Madeline is being hired by the husband to act as a double whilst he plans to murder his actual wife. During that time he and Madeline fall in love and smooch weirdly. Madeline then pretends to commit suicide by jumping off a bell tower to which John cant help her because of his fear of heights and therefore makes John sad. John then falls for a woman called Judy which is actually the woman pretending to be the guys wife. John catches on that she is and confronts her for tricking him. John takes her to the bell tower to get answers and Judy dies the same way as Madeline. Plop. The end
First off, I mentioned how much I loved the end, everything built
and built and built till the point where I was panicking for both the characters
sake, John at this point has gone insane with the realisation that this was a
trick on him and so has become the crazy one, oh how the tables turned. The
last section of that film, where she fell hit me, I gasped and didn’t breathe
until the credits rolled. I have mixed feelings around how it ended, the
annoying thing with old films is that they seem to build and build and build to
the point of the explosion but then they don’t show the aftermath, that
happened here with Vertigo. The woman falls from the window and dies, then
instantly cuts there, there end, no afterwards, and I don’t know if I did want
more or if it didn’t, it’s a funny feeling I have so I’m torn but I wont mark
it down for it, I feel like it’s just me, I wanted more but at the same time
it’s a thinker.