Though originally critically panned, and a box office failure on release, Vertigo has since become known as one of the best films of all time, even beating out Citizen Kane in certain lists. It really is one of his most accomplished films, with a fantastic use of color, inventive camera tricks, like the now iconic "Vertigo effect" and great use of his two leads, particularly James Stewart.
My only minor complaints are firstly that the film does drag in its first thirty minutes, that would be a bigger problem if it didn't pay off so well by the end. However it is a bit annoying, and might make repeated viewings difficult. My second complaint comes from the ending itself, it happens so fast the viewer barely has any time to take it all in, or really think about what has just happened.
Vertigo is simply something that should not be missed. It's sadly easy to see why it didn't catch on well with audiences in 1958. The first half is largely long stretches that are entirely dialogue free, with Hitchcock using great locations and color to keep the viewer locked in. Combine that with it's twisty, odd, but ultimately wonderful story, and it's not hard at all to understand why it was just too obscure for an audience that was used to dialogue filled films, with little to no symbolism at the time, Vertigo was simply just too much for audiences back then, and it's a shame considering Hitchcock really poured his heart into this film, believing he had made one of his best. To echo what others have now said: it's a beautiful, haunting film that depicts love, obsession, and madness with great skill. Do yourself a favor and see what has rightfully been called an American classic.
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.