Friday, September 27, 2013


1958, 124m, Hitchcock
Vertigo is the latest No 1 movie in the Sight and Sound poll, replacing Kane. I'm visiting it after a decade. It seems to have lost the magic it had. As a movie in which suspense is an important ingredient, the second view is different from the first. It has great cinematic beauty and haunting music--I had not forgotten the picturesque car drives along the sea side around San Francisco. It ventures into the inner recesses of the mind, in the Freudian manner. It is about fear, death and desire. The hero, Scottie, is obsessed to a point of sickness by a woman, or of a mental picture of one. It is a picture of dark, brooding, obsessive sexuality. Like most Hitchcock characters he is driven by forces over which he has little control. Death and desire, birth and cessation--are they not complementary? The movie delves into the eternal mystery, hazards into the region beyond the grave, conceding the possibility of existence beyond. Of course, it's devilish cleverness lies precisely in discarding all these conjectures and winding up as an ingenious matter of fact crime thriller. Whatever else one may say, this is not a film that can be forgotten. Every frame has remained imprinted for a decade. Hitchcock was never modest of his ability to mesmerize his audience. In a sense, watching it seemed superfluous, since it was already embedded in the mind. The plot is absurdly improbable. It must be full of loopholes. But that doesn't count. It is a dark and troubled portrayal of human nature, but I am left asking whether it is great cinema, whatever greatness means, or a disturbing piece of gimmickry? Among Hitchcock's films, it is among  the most memorable--one that has to be seen.


Seongyong Cho said...

I probably watched this film at least 5 times, and it was always pleasure to revisit this great movie about a desperately perverted romance.

S. M. Rana said...

I can imagine becoming as obsessed with the movie as Scottie was about the apparition named Madeline! The film has the quality of a perfume or a drug induced dream and reminds of Coleridge's opium inspired poem.