Back when it was released, it was one of the first films to compete with Citizen Kane as the greatest film ever made. Is it? It stars James Stewart as a former detective who suffers with a disease known as acrophobia which is a fear of heights which gives him vertigo. (hints the title) His college friend (played by Tom Helmore) is wanting him to privately investigate his wife as she is going through strange stages involving her ancestor. I'll start off by saying that this is Hitchcock's masterwork. He directs with an original style of filmography. He uses unique camerawork. Camerawork that is beyond breathtaking. Not only for the time. It still holds up very well. He also knows how to use different colors to express emotion, and to tell the story. James Stewart plays his character very well. In fact, everyone pulled off a very solid and believable performance. If you notice this in a movie, than it is a good sign. The VFX were nothing short of fitting as it matches perfectly with the protagonist's disease. Not to mention, this is one of the best thrillers ever made. (at least in my opinion) The first act gave us very useful information that you need to know for the rest of the movie, but at the same time, something was building up tension. I don't know what it was, but it was a bomb ready to go off. Once you see what it builds up to, the plot thickens to an extreme extent. So extreme that it becomes completely unpredictable and you don't know if it wants you to figure out what will occur in the future, or if it wants you to sit through the tension and see how it ends. All of it unfolds, and at the end, my head felt heavy with information. It is a film that made me want to see more with all of this information. It is a movie that requires a few viewings to lay out all of this info and come up with a conclusion of how it all unfolded. How did it do this so perfectly? Two words: Alfred Hitchcock.
Entertainment value: 9.9/10
Over all score: 10/10
Over all, Vertigo was a brilliant thriller. One has a heck of a good reputation because of the perfect combination of style and substance. Everything that could've went south went north in the best possible way. 5/5 stars.
It hooked me in quite early for the directing by Hitchcock. You watch this extreme close up of a eye that slowly zooms out which looked amazing. "Vertigo" was also the first film to ever feature "dolly zoom" (a camera effect that distorts perspective to create disorientation). This effect was used to create Scotties acrophobia. As a result of it's use in the film, the effect is often referred to as the "Vertigo effect". Anyway, this style of directing was used multiple times and I believe made the film appealing throughout. The "nightmare" scene being my favourite, the use of different colours was nice and you felt like you were in the characters mind.
I must admit though, I didn't take to James Stewart's character as much as I was expecting to. Straight away he comes across as a very noble, kind gentleman and gradually becomes slightly creepy which I believe could of been the point but for me, it put me off. For plot reasons, he had to become creepy but it just didn't sell to me.
I will try my hardest to not spoil it for you but the main plot behind the romance of the film wasn't built up enough for me to enjoy it. I had a lot of difficulty caring for the romance between the characters because I didn't feel the romance wasn't portrayed to the audience enough or in the right way. For a film that dragged for more than 2 hours, I felt let down. I felt I deserved more than what was portrayed. I longed for a real explanation and yet my mind was left wondering if it was actually something mystical that was driving the story.
Then you move into the third and final act of the film that gave you the big "shock" which fair play did actually shock me. I have always loved a good twist and when it is so simple and it still takes you by surprise, that's even better which "Vertigo" for me, did.
Why was it then I felt the film was just left to drag the plot out to an extent, it starts to bore you again? The movie just rambled on and on and I just couldn't get back on board. When I did jump back on board for the conclusion which was quite uncomfortable and made me a little bit anxious, suddenly the film ends very oddly. As I was watching on the train, my head was shouting "Wait a minute, that's it"?
I didn't love Vertigo. However it had it's good elements that I loved. Visually I really enjoyed it. The score was quite intense. Kim Novaks acting was very well done but this just wasn't effective enough for me to enjoy it. I doubt I will ever revisit Vertigo but I can agree it was a very well made film.
The story involves a San Francisco cop named John "Scottie" Ferguson (James Stewart), who has acrophobia, or a fear of heights resulting in vertigo. Hence the title. One day, an old friend asks John to spy on his wife, whose behavior has suddenly changed. The wife, Madeline (Kim Novak), is overseen by John, who wants to learn more about her, yet becomes slightly attractive to her in the process. What follows, John soon realizes that Madeline might be involved with something even bigger.
For many aspects the film has, "Vertigo" can be considered a high class mystery that lives up to the genre. For starters, the story is one of most invested narratives that audiences will thoroughly enjoy. It keeps the audience guessing as to what might happen next, until the big final reveal at the end of it all. Especially, considering that the film runs at almost two hours in length. In order to fill the void, we have a brilliant orchestrated score from Bernard Herrmann that more than enough sets the tone of the movie. Complemented with the brilliant direction of Hitchcock, who sets up the scenes with great detail, one has to wonder how he did it. Fortunately, this can be attributed to the brilliant set design, and cinematography representing a nice glimpse into the 1950s. Plus, the costumes fit well onto each actor and actress giving a nice nostalgic look to the film. Finally, both Stewart and Novak deliver some great performances, that truly make "Vertigo" a classic.
With that being said, there is one major and minor problem presented with the movie. The minor problem is that the story does get somewhat jumbled in the middle, and there are certain plot points which do not have a clear conclusion. More importantly, there's a subplot involving John and his girlfriend which starts off nicely in the beginning, but doesn't seem to go anywhere near the conclusion. The major problem is with the film's pacing; it's slow and drags like a rock moving across the road. However, the film does use this as an advantage to keep the progression of the story more in tact, but it just feels that if there had been some more fast sections, then it would have been fine.
Overall, "Vertigo" is a great movie from Alfred Hitchcock, despite it not being his masterpiece, and yet, is still a classic nonetheless.
A. Hitchcock nos muestra sin duda ser uno de los innovasores más influyentes del siglo XX, además de una magnífica propuesta visual, Vertigo nos ofrece una intrigante historia con un sorprendente final.
After a police detective named John Ferguson causes the death of a police officer due to his acrophobia during a rooftop chase, he retires from that job. He is soon hired by a former college acquaintance of his to keep an eye on his wife, because he fears that she might commit suicide as she believes that she is possessed.
Around the 80 minute mark, it seemed like the movie was about to end. It seemed as if the climax came to be, and the viewer thought that they knew what kind of film it was going to be. However, the viewer becomes shocked to find out that the film is continuing on. The viewer wonders: "What else do they have left to do?". At first, I thought that the movie was going to lose steam as the final third is, admittedly, a little bit slower than the rest of the film. However, the dream sequence gave me a feeling that I was not wasting my time. It interested me a lot, and I was curious to find out how the movie was going to end. This all led up to a shocking and unexpected ending which left a strong impact on me. The plot twist at the end made the film a lot better, and it encouraged me to watch the film again as I wondered how the movie was going to feel on a 2nd viewing.
Looking back at the movie, I noticed how John's acrophobia wasn't present in that many scenes. It was only present a few times in the movie. At first, I thought that it was a bit underutilized. However, after I thought more about how the plot twist at the end effected the film before it, I came to a conclusion that it did not have to be used more than it was. John did not have acrophobia, because Hitchcock simply wanted to add it in for suspense. It was put in the movie as it was essential for the movie's ending to work. If it were to be used any more times in the film, it would've started to feel redundant. Hitchcock did all of the primary tasks with that element without overdoing it.
The acting in this film was really good. James Stewart as John Ferguson did a good job as the lead performance. His performance was pretty solid all around. He provided all the emotions and reactions which were required for his role. Nothing more and nothing less. Kim Novak gave a really great performance as well. She played 2 characters who each had different personalities. When she was Madeleine Elster, she played a woman who looked hopeless and terrified. She was able to do it without sounding annoying or over-the-top. When she played Judy Barton, her role seemed more meaty and strong. She did a good job transitioning between both of these characters. As the movie continued on, I started to notice some subtlety in her performance. She clearly stole the show. They were great as the 2 main leads. I had no particular issues with any of the other actors and actresses.
The film is also pretty to look at. Views of the city and the streets are gorgeous. Some of the shots show dozens upon dozens of buildings. Those shots are overwhelming. Also, some of the other shots in different places around the city look nice as well such as the art museum and the graveyard. Also, it's hard to forget the opening scene where 3 of the characters were running across the rooftops with the evening sky in the background. Also, there's the haunting camerawork in the dream sequence which gives out an unsettling presence. Out of all of Hitchcock's films that I've seen so far, I like the cinematography in this film the most.
In conclusion, this was a well-acted and well-shot crime film which had a very memorable storyline and ending. Is it the best film of all time though? I wouldn't say so. There are deeper films than this one. "Citizen Kane" also has more layers to it and it's a more influential and important film. Also, I enjoyed "Rear Window" a little more than this one. However, this is still a really great film. I can understand why a lot of people like it. It's one of the best Hitchcock films that I've seen so far.
I struggled with Jimmy Stewart's character in this film. I thought he was set up as a fairly noble guy and I liked him. However as the movie progresses he gradually becomes more and more creepy. It was bad enough when he's undressing and making out with another man's wife, but that final act with the clothes and hair obsession had me squirming in my seat.
I also had difficulty with the romance in Vertigo. It's a problem I often have with movie love affairs, because I don't see enough build-up for these two people to claim they are in love. I was still trying to get over this guy kissing a friend's wife and the next thing I know he's confessing his love for her? It was tough for me to accept.
The softening of the romantic blow came through the plot. That's where Vertigo really shines. I was delighted by the mystery because I so desperately wanted to discover what was going on. I longed for a real explanation and yet I kept wondering if it was actually something mystical that was driving the story.
The first reveal of the truth was a true shocking moment for me and suddenly I was totally amazed how they fooled me. The fact that they had to insert a scene explaining it all in words right after the visual explanation felt a bit forced, but maybe they're just trying to cater to the people who can't put the pieces together on their own.
The third act was probably the weakest part of Vertigo. It felt like the movie was rambling after the reveal and dragging things out so long when I was just waiting for it all to finally hit the fan. Then the final moments were intense and uncomfortable. I was back on board and anxiously awaiting the dramatic conclusion. When it came it was so sudden, and odd that I wasn't ready for it and almost said "Wait, that's it?"
I didn't love Vertigo. There are other Hitchcock films that are much more effective for me. However, there were elements of genius that I connected with in this film. The mystery gripped me, the visuals were stunning, the score was intense, and the acting was great. I doubt I'll revisit Vertigo, unlike my preferred Hitchcock movies, but I can recognize it's a very well-made film.