VERTIGO is one of the most revered and referenced films of all time (and one of my absolute favorites), and as far as I can tell, we don't have a separate thread on it. So here we go. Kicking things off, I offer Roger Ebert's Great Movies review as a starting point (it's full of spoilers, and thus, if you haven't seen the film, I recommend you avoid this thread, watch it at your earliest possible convenience, and then return and join in the discussion). For an excerpt:
"Did he train you? Did he rehearse you? Did he tell you what to do and what to say?''
This cry from a wounded heart comes at the end of Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo,'' and by the time it comes we are completely in sympathy. A man has fallen in love with a woman who does not exist, and now he cries out harshly against the real woman who impersonated her. But there is so much more to it than that. The real woman has fallen in love with him. In tricking him, she tricked herself. And the man, by preferring his dream to the woman standing before him, has lost both.
Then there is another level, beneath all of the others. Alfred Hitchcock was known as the most controlling of directors, particularly when it came to women. The female characters in his films reflected the same qualities over and over again: They were blond. They were icy and remote. They were imprisoned in costumes that subtly combined fashion with fetishism. They mesmerized the men, who often had physical or psychological handicaps. Sooner or later, every Hitchcock woman was humiliated.
"Vertigo'' (1958), which is one of the two or three best films Hitchcock ever made, is the most confessional, dealing directly with the themes that controlled his art. It is *about* how Hitchcock used, feared and tried to control women. He is represented by Scottie (James Stewart), a man with physical and mental weaknesses (back problems, fear of heights), who falls obsessively in love with the image of a woman--and not any woman, but the quintessential Hitchcock woman. When he cannot have her, he finds another woman and tries to mold her, dress her, train her, change her makeup and her hair, until she looks like the woman he desires. He cares nothing about the clay he is shaping; he will gladly sacrifice her on the altar of his dreams.
Edited by Ryan H., 17 March 2010 - 12:04 PM.