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24. Vertigo (1958), dir. Alfred Hitchcock

Seen a couple of weeks ago with [personal profile] lady_lugosi1313 at the Hyde Park Picture House. I don't think it needs a hugely long review from me, because it is obviously a very famous and much-analysed film which I really doubt I'll have anything very original to say about. But a few points which particularly struck me:

1. It's in colour! I was honestly quite surprised by this, because I'd just assumed that all Hitchcock films were inherently in black and white, even though I've seen (for example) Rope and The Birds, which aren't, and I had seen stills of this sequence as well:


I guess I just assumed the stills were colourised? Anyway, my real point is how incredibly well the colour is used throughout the film to convey character through signature palettes, create a sense of fear or unease, make sure we notice connections etc. Pretty impressive, if sometimes maybe slightly overdone in the way that many film-makers overdid colour once they had it available to play with.

2. It has two major moments of revelation: one when the audience is shown that Judy Barton doesn't just resemble Madeleine Elster, but had been impersonating her, and one when the nun stands up at the end and says "I heard voices" (I'm deliberately keeping that one a bit vague to avoid spoilers - but you will know what I mean if you've seen it). Learning the nature of Judy and Gavin Elster's conspiracy at least explained how Jimmy Stewart's character had got away with being the Worst Trail Ever in the first part of the film. Of course Madeleine had never 'spotted' him, despite his habit of pulling up very blatantly only a few yards behind her car or staring at her openly in museums, once we understand that she was stringing him along the whole time. As for the final twist with the nun - what a head-fuck! It seems obvious to me that Scottie must jump after Judy just after the credits roll, as there is no way he is psychologically going to survive losing her that way twice. It is only his destiny, really, given the entire theme of the film, to finally surrender himself to that vertigo after all.

3. Jimmy Stewart really is exceptionally good in it, especially when he is in shock after 'Madeleine's' death. His badly-dyed hair is quite distracting, though, and his character is not at all endearing - especially his dismissive treatment of Midge. It is very noticeable that she simply disappears from the film once her plot value (mainly as a sounding-board for Scottie) expires.

I'll probably want to watch it again some time, knowing everything that the audience knows by the end. I suspect it is a better watch that way. But for now, that's it - I'm done.

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