Essay on Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock

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Vertigo, 1958, Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, USA, 128 mins. From the initial outset of spirals and swirls foreboding the twists and turns to come, Hitchcock’s compelling mystery-thriller Vertigo unceasingly captures the audience’s attention positioning one directly behind the male protagonist’s eyes. We follow Scotty, who due to his condition of Vertigo becomes helpless when an old friend requests him to shadow his believed-to-be possessed wife, Madeline, who commits suicide before his eyes. Scotty’s melancholia and alarming fixation with Madeline becomes evident when he later meets Judy who holds an uncanny resemblance to his late affection. The profound visual style of Vertigo aesthetically creates suspense and an eerie, yet alluring ambiance, placing you subconsciously within the realm of the film. The thematic concerns include power, male dominance and erogenous obsession, clarifying why its reception encounters feminist issues regarding the objectification of women within the film and ideas of women being willingly controlled by men to look and do as the male pleases. These concerns will be discussed further whilst analysing two broader elements of visual style: colour and framing. Hitchcock himself stated ‘the story was of less importance to me than the over-all visual impact on screen,’ (Wollen, 1997, pp. 16). Hitchcock achieved this desire and a crucial part of this was his choices in colour particularly with the lighting, costume and props. The most noticeable colour evident within the film is green. Green was used in costumes, particularly dresses, skirts and eye shadow worn by Judy, but also a green shawl was also worn by Madeline the first time Scotty saw her at Ernie’s Restaurant. Green was used in props specifically the colour of Madeline’s car and green was also copiously used in lighting. For example, in Judy’s apartment the never-fading, bright neon

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