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Posted: Jul 9 2018, 03:49 PM
Joined: 19-May 18
Location: West of the Rockies
Pieces taken from a longish but very interesting article. I think I'm going to have to find the time to watch this movie again; and pay better attention ( ); haven't seen it in a loong time.
Why Hitchcock's Vertigo is so horrifying today
9 July 2018
In 2012, Hitchcock’s mind-bending mystery topped Sight and Sound’s critics’ poll of the greatest films of all time
Vertigo gets better with age. Alfred Hitchcock’s mind-bending mystery wasn’t a critical or commercial hit when it was released 60 years ago, and in an interview with Francois Truffaut in 1962, Hitchcock himself classed it as “a failure”. But few failures have gone on to be so successful. In the critics’ poll conducted once a decade by Sight and Sound magazine, Vertigo was ranked, in 1982, as the seventh best film ever made. By 1992, it had crept up to fourth place; by 2002 it was second only to Citizen Kane; and in 2012 Vertigo overtook Orson Welles’ masterpiece to take the top spot.
Why has its reputation climbed to such dizzying heights? One obvious reason is that the film drips with the kind of toxic cynicism which appeals to critics in retrospect more than it does to Saturday-night cinema-goers. In a canon not short of gruesome murders and cruel betrayals, Vertigo stands out as Hitchcock’s most mercilessly bleak work. Two women die horribly, the hero’s sanity is shattered, and there is no indication that the urbane villain will be punished. You can see why it frustrated viewers who were in the mood for a Jimmy Stewart adventure yarn in 1958.
Another reason why Vertigo now towers over the competition is that its themes have become ever more relevant. It’s not one of those films which predict the future, and it’s not a science-fiction movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it was certainly way ahead of its time. When you watch Vertigo in the age of the internet, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, it resonates as loudly as a church bell.
He (James Stewart) chooses fantasy over reality, much like the men in Westworld and The Stepford Wives. And in the 21st Century, when we spend so much of our lives online, quite a few of us are making the same mistake.
Again, I wouldn’t argue for a moment that Hitchcock was warning us about algorithms or the internet when he was making Vertigo. He wasn’t pondering the dangers of AI or VR. But rewatch that classic credits sequence designed by Saul Bass. First there is a black-and-white close-up of a woman’s mouth. The camera moves up to her eyes, which look right and then left. As the camera zooms in on one eye, the screen is tinted red, and the eye widens. An intricate purple vortex starts to spin in its pupil.
The film that follows is, of course, a Hitchcock suspense thriller. But if it did happen to be the story of an android that had been built to mesmerise her unsuspecting prey, it could hardly have had a more appropriate opening than that.