First of all, it's a bit challenging to speak about the movie to people who haven't seen it, but as Chris Marker said : « Do those who haven't seen Vertigo deserve to be spoken to ? »
Let's try anyway.
Scottie, a former cop, has just resigned because he suffers from a fear of heights. He is hired by an old friend of his to follow his wife, Madeleine, who suffers from a morbid melancholia.
But you don't follow a woman like Kim Novak innocently. When she falls in San Francisco bay, he falls in love with her (People fall a lot in the movie, it's a movie about falling). He takes her home. He lives not far from the Coit tower, can you believe it ?
Madeleine thinks she is possessed by the soul of a doomed woman named Carlotta. Eventually she is going to die, by falling.
Scottie is devastated, both because he is in love, but also because he failed to stop her.
He falls (again) into a deep nervous breakdown.
When he begins to recover, he accidently meets Juddy, who looks a bit like Madeleine. Driven by an insane obsession, he tries to change Juddy into Madeleine in every possible little detail. (Hitchcock, mourning the loss of Grace Kelly, and transforming Kim Novak?)
I won't reveal the end.
This could be just another Hitchcock movie, with suspense, love, lust, violence and a final switch. Still, this one is unique. There is a weird magic, a strange alchemy in this movie. Most of its charm and fascination come from the fact that it is divided into two parts which echo each other. It's a mirror-film in which everything is reversed. And it's litterally vertiginous ! For instance, see what side Madeleine is looking at when she kisses Scottie in the mission, and which side Juddy is looking at later. See how many times Scottie and Juddy are in front of a mirror, thus creating four characters. Some lines of the dialogue are even inverted. There is something really maniac about the movie, like Scottie knowing to the smallest detail of what Madeleine was wearing. Who could do this with the beloved one ?
The colors also play an important and significant part in the movie. Try to spot red and green. Who wears them ? When ? What objects, car, door, are green or red?
Finally, no matter how many times we watch the movie, the puzzle is always incomplete and the magic is still present.
To conclude, in the west, there is a place called Scotty's castle. It is a remote, forsaken place, far from everything. As a coincidence, it is located in Death Valley, the place where Scottie wanders for ever, looking for Madeleine. A beautiful coincidence ?
- Film Noir
- Alfred Hitchcock
An ex-police officer is asked to follow an old friends wife who thinks she is being followed by ghosts. A classic Hitchcock about a man who’s afraid of heights and a woman he must unfortunately follow to great heights.