Captivating, haunting, and emotionally atmospheric, Vertigo is a resonating force leaving its audience awe struck by its ferocious executions of emotion through its vibrant, yet grimly dark characters. Elegiac yet brisk in its output, the study of character and the interpretations of film and its impact on the human mindset force a change in audience perception and a change in filmic tradition.
Hitchcock's forceful parable of the human condition lies at its core through his characters who, in many regards, symbolize the power and danger of obsession, love, loss, and the inability for forward progression. The narrative has a steady incline (and final stroke at its conclusion) to push forth the ideal of a past experience best forgotten holding a strange allure to relive itself if one is unable to move forward and treat the past as the past. Vertigo laments itself as a harrowing outlook on lives and schemes crashing into one another with the dangers of obsession and its nature to drive ourselves into misconstrued paths. But while it gives this ideal to us as a whole, it also tends to broadcast the various points of obsession - obsessions of love, of pedantic perfection, of the unearthing of truths.
Stewart returns at Hitchcock's side in this thriller as the embodiment of this obsession and the catalyst of this dangerous pursuit for what he believes to be love. His heroism is often questioned throughout the film where a blurry line is formed between the deeds of his job and sometimes seemingly antagonistic ways. Yet, throughout this progression into his melancholic and manic behaviour, there is still a sheer likability to the character. Due to a true to tone performance from Stewart, the audience feels for his character even through his tirades of trying to abolish his unrequited love and turn it into a truth. However, the real show stopper of the picture comes through the motivator of this obsession - the woman that is wanted but should never be pursued. Kim Novak gives her role a widely under analysed spectrum in both behavioural and voice projections. Her beauty lights the screen, while her personality sets a sizzle.
Cinematographically, the colour scheme of the film tends to contradict the nature of shots, yet never actually hinders it. The choice of colours for the film imbues a deep vibrancy, and brings a distinction between attraction and repulsion. Novak's clothes remain stale and cold, a symbol of a danger that should not be pursued, while bright colours wanderously aim to steal the attention, but to no avail. Yet the shot structure proves the theory of framing rather then panning. Meticulous still frames are implored for the viewer's perusal, to once more force the gaze of the film's colouring and to study our characters in a more delicate manner. Hitchcock never tries to dazzle through camera ingenuity, but instead opts for placement to be the forte' of his shots, with an outcome just as impressive in this art form as anything created.
However, while the camera work instills a purposeful coldness, this does not mean that the film is without the flair for invention. Through the combined efforts of Bernard Herrman's hypnotic, mysterious sound composition and the invention of shots to reflect our leads 'Vertigo', the audience gets sucked into a trance-like state with the film, much again to reflect the conditions of our wandering lead. The hypnosis of the film is achieved through the visuals and the music, and takes the notion of cinema that extra step further as we engulf ourselves in this film and this narrative.