Phillip Duggan (sparhawk2k) wrote in celluloidraving,
Phillip Duggan

Vertigo (1958) ... 9.5/10


I think part of my mind must not like remembering the movie well when I try to review it because I somehow manage to get distracted every single time I sit down to write. Anyway, to finally write this thing, as much as I respect Hitchcock I've actually seen very few of his movies. And things like the birds, while amusing and fun, aren't quite the same. And I've also seen very few movies classified as thrillers which I truly loved like this. I enjoyed some of them and could even give a few some good ratings but there was always part of my mind tacking on "for the genre". It's just not usually my cup of tea. But Vertigo was simply amazing. It's also very interesting to see the many different ways it was viewed. The same page called it "a whirlpool of terror and tension! " along with saying that it is "arguably the greatest love story ever told, superseding even 'Romeo and Juliet'." Talk about a mix? I definitely agree with the first one and can even see where they're coming from with the second (though the obsession seeming to border on necrophilia creeps me out more than a bit) and that is part of what makes this movie so great. The layers upon layers to unravel, the many different ways you can view it and interpret it, and then just the amazing skill behind everything. Alfred Hitchcock is a genius, James Stewart and the rest of the cast is absolutely wonderful, seems to work with just about every scene, and whoever else played a hand did their job too. It just seems to come together.

Now, you certainly can't go into this seeking lighthearted comedy or shoot-um-up action and expect to be entertained. This movie is slow, thick, complicated, and very dark. It's seldom that the mood is shaken even for a small joke. But that's part of what makes it work so well. The suspense and the mood keep building and building and you're constantly in a position to question the plot and the characters, looking into everything they do and why. And you're constantly wondering what is going to happen next and why and it seldom lets up. Which is impressive for a movie like this� It's not just a nice little story with five minutes worth of action and suspense at the end. Things really get going from the very beginning in many ways and if nothing else you're left wondering how Hitchcock will start to tie the elements together.

Also, one big problem I've always had with most horror or thriller movies I've seen is their obsession with surprise, especially at the end. I could care less if something flashes on the screen suddenly. I might jump a bit or something like that but it's an obvious reflex action. I'd be somewhat worried about somebody who doesn't flinch or react just because of the next time they might need to. But still, that's not scary in any way I usually think about it. What impressed me with this film was the concentration on the suspense and character development instead of surprising you with things. I've even heard that same sort of thought as one of the complaints because Hitchcock deliberately tells you things that could have been a big surprise in the end. But in my opinion it made things that much better. It built the suspense up more and more as the story went on. It was similar to many books in that you knew more than the characters. And it gave you a chance to really ponder their thoughts and actions.

I would definitely recommend this film to just about anybody old enough to appreciate it. Hitchcock definitely lives up to his reputation with this. And I don't have to tack on "for a thriller" either. Even if you don't like many thrillers or horror movies I think you might like this one. And especially if you don't like the kinds that try to startle you over and over� This is something different with a lot of time and effort as well as thought showing all the way through. And one of the better movies I have ever seen at that.
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