Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo is a thrilling film filled with mystery and suspense. However, Hitchcock left many unsolved issues at the end of this film. In contrast, when comparing Vertigo to more recent films of similar genre', mysteries are usually always solved and thoroughly explained by the end of the film. Ironically, Hitchcock's failure to explain everything to the audience in Vertigo is one of the film's best attributes. This lack of knowledge allows the viewer to use their own imagination and speculate as to what might or might not have become of certain characters.
Vertigo boasted several different themes. However, the "Ideal Woman Lost" theme was the most prevalent ("Handout #1"). This theme was brought on by an obsessed "everyman" type. Jimmy Stewart, otherwise known as Scottie in the film, played this "everyman" type whose personality was maliciously twisted into an overly obsessive man. His cause for obsession was a beautiful, young woman played by Kim Novak, known as both Madeleine and Judy in the film. Madeleine drew Scottie in so deep, that he literally became a different person. This film mirrored Hitchcock's personal feelings and was considered to be his favorite film.
While there are many scenes that prove the above theme, the following are three specific scenes that clearly spell out Scottie's obsession. The scene where Scottie was sitting in his car alone after dropping Midge off at her home is a good first example. Midge and Scottie had just spent an afternoon together researching Carlotta Valdes' history. Before Midge got out of the car she told Scottie, much to his dismay, that she was going view Carlotta's portrait at the museum. As soon as Midge got out of the car, Scottie pulled out his brochure from the museum and turned to the page that hosted Carlotta's portrait. As he stared at her picture for several moments, he began to visualize Madeleine's face. Clearly this was one of the first signs of...
Cited: Handout #1: Alfred Hitchcock & Notes on Vertigo
Giannetti, Louis. Understanding Movies. 8th ed. New Jersey: Simon & Schuster,
Stewart, James, perf. Vertigo. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock. Perf. James Steward, Kim
Novak. Universal Pictures, 1958.
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