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Vertigo (1958) Movie Review

Here we go again with another monumental movie from the master of thriller, Alfred Hitchcock. Unlike his best picture work Rebecca, this movie holds a different meaning and thrill.

There are many instances that a film is driven by how it is intentionally shot, how the chosen color palette or camera angle changes the story and impacts a certain eerieness.

Plot Overview

Vertigo briefly introduces our main character, Scottie Ferguson, a retired city policeman who fears heights. He lives in an apartment and is frequently visited by his ex-fiance, Midge.

One day Scottie's college friend, Gavin, visits him and asks for a favor. He wants Scottie to tail his wife, Madeline, because he claims she is acting strangely and has an abnormal mental state. Scottie agrees and follows Madeline to her daily routine. She begins the day by going to a florist, buying a bouquet, and offering it to the grave of Carlotta Valdes, a woman who committed suicide not too long ago. She also goes to the museum and stares blankly at a portrait called Portrait of Carlotta. He continues to follow her to a hotel, but upon further investigation, she does not happen to be there.

Scottie's curiosity allows him to question Gavin about his wife's mental state, and he mentions that the spirit of Carlotta possesses her. He also reveals that Carlotta is Madeline's great-grandmother, and she has no memories of the places she visited. One day, Scottie tails her to Fort Point and rescues her when she suddenly jumps into the water.

Things get a little tense when Scottie begins to develop feelings for Madeline. As they get closer to each other, so does Scottie's goal of the truth.

This monumental film features the incredible talents of the legendary James Stewart, Kim Novak, Tom Helmore, etc.


It's hard to fully grasp Vertigo's story because of how everything is carefully structured.

First, this film introduces Hollywood to a new camera technique called dolly zoom. It's a style when a camera zooms out but moves closer to the subject and vice versa. An incredible design that is used in modern-day thrillers and suspense movies to add uneasiness and emphasis. It may not be as seamless as today, but it still brings tension, especially enhancing Scottie's acrophobia.

Second, the use of two distinct colors, red and green. Throughout the movie, you will notice a lot of objects, clothes, and background images marked in those two colors. It's not hard to see, but it emphasizes the illusionary feeling that both Scottie and Madeline feel about their surroundings and themselves.

Third, the killer soundtrack adds suspense and thrill to the movie. It's so brilliantly effective because of the timing it's used.

Lastly, the plot structure. Even if you have introduced a new camera style, color palettes, soundtrack, and everything, if you do not have the brilliance of Alfred Hitchcock's story twists, they won't really work.

Overall, Vertigo is a carefully constructed movie that stood the test of time. It's well-calculated, and everything jives very well. I do not think there will be another film that gave me the uneasiness like Vertigo, and I absolutely loved it.

A perfect 5 out of 5 stars.

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