Vertigo, 1958: The Greatest of All Suspense Thrillers | My Paper Hub

Vertigo, 1958: The Greatest of All Suspense Thrillers

Vertigo is a suspense thriller that represents the best example of narrative and technical filmmaking. The film is based on the novel “D’ entre Les Morts” by Thomas Narcejac and Pierre Boileau and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film explores va...Read More

~Posted on Feb 2018


Vertigo is a suspense thriller that represents th...

Vertigo is a suspense thriller that represents the best example of narrative and technical filmmaking. The film is based on the novel “D’ entre Les Morts” by Thomas Narcejac and Pierre Boileau and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The film explores various themes that marked the art of the director and established the film as a total mystery with many unsolved issues and suspense. The title, Vertigo, is defined as an imbalance in the bodily equilibrium that results in the disorientation of the mind and brings about confusion. As such, the film explores the effects of vertigo on humans expressed both physically and mentally and in a supernatural form. In the film, some themes are easy to understand while others are hidden in the throughout the script, in the production, and in acting. The film follows the story of Scottie, who has vertigo expressed through physical disorientation and mentally by falling in love with an imaginary woman. The director brings out the story of Scottie through the interchange of scenes, photography, and editing to depict the lead actor as deceived. The significance of these stylistic devices helps to demonstrate Scottie’s deception, how deception led to his vertigo, how it affected him and finally how he overcame his condition by leaving Madeleine and Judy.

The film opens with a close shot of a human eye featuring a spinning shape accompanied by soothing music. The rich images provide a clue that the film is full of visual images that will capture the viewers and take them to another world (Youtube). To establish a state of illusion, the film features spinning images, bell tower staircase, spiral and circular features, nightmares and many concrete images representing delusion (Sclipfinger, 2). In addition, past events and haunting locations keep recurring, to represent both physical and mental aspects of vertigo. The recurrence of past locations and events also plays a critical role in bringing the major the theme of the film, recurrence, which the director uses to bring out Scottie’s story.

The mise-en-scenes in the film allow the viewers to experience Scottie’s deception and bring out major themes in the film. The opening scene opens with Scottie hanging from the ledge, and excellent cinematography allows the viewer to feel as disoriented as the actor. The opening scene explains the plot of the film since hanging on the ledge is symbolic to indicate that Scottie is desperate to stay in the stable physical and mental world but is being pulled into an illusion by Madeleine (Youtube). Flash forward to Midge’s studio where Scottie is balancing a cane on his fingers. Midge and the balancing act depicts the stability that Scottie requires but does not need due to his fascination with mysterious Madeleine.

The central theme of the film, bringing back the past is first forwarded to Scottie by Gavin Elster who convinces him that it is possible and can even see Madeleine at Ernie’s. The meeting marked the beginning of Scottie’s journey into illusion and fantasy world (Makkai, 73). He immerses himself so deep in imaginary Madeline that even Midge cannot convince him to leave the imaginary chase and be real. However, in the real sense, the imaginary Madeline is actually Judy Barton who falls in love with Scottie. The first part ends with the death of Madeline, which devastates Scottie but he is obsessed with the idea that the past can still come back.

Scottie hopelessly cringes on the notion that the past recurs, an idea that he had initially dismissed in the first part of the movie. The second part of the film is also set in the same location as the first part to enhance further the theme of recurrence. However, in the second part, Scottie begins to turn Judy into Madeleine to fit in his fantasies. The transformation is successful, and Judy appears as a ghost to embrace Scottie signifying success in resurrecting Madeleine. The new relationship takes a new turn when Scottie recognizes a necklace that was previously owned by Carlotta on Judy (Makkai, 140). He investigates the matter and realizes that he was deceived. He symbolically climbs the stairs to signify that he was finally overcoming vertigo. In the end, Judy falls off the tower to indicate that Scottie will overcome vertigo since Madeline and Judy are no longer present.

Vertigo is a complex suspense thriller with many turns, complexities and twists, making it a classic mark of technical and narrative film-making. The director uses interchange of scenes, photography, and editing to bring out the basic and hidden messages in the film. As such, the film captures the audience, providing a memorable experience with all the marks of a classic film. The stylistic devices employed allow the audiences follow Scottie’s vertigo up to the point of redemption. Unlike today’s’ suspense thrillers that solve the mystery at the end, Vertigo leaves the viewer in suspense with regard to Scottie’s utopia. The film expertly uses these stylistic devices to deliver a memorable production that is highly rated by film critics.

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