Sunday, June 3, 2012

VERTIGO (1958)

Its treat watching Hitchcock classic on digitally restored HD clarity of colors and sound. Almost eight years ago when I had watched ‘Vertigo’ first time on purchased VCD, the film didn’t appeal to me as strikingly as ‘Psycho’, ‘Rear Window’ or ‘Dial M for Murder’. I wondered how it did stand close second best movie behind ‘Citizen Kane’ in a 2002 poll of world’s greatest movies by Sight and Sound. Then I read that this is the Hitchcock classic that is an obsessed inspiration from filmmakers ranging from Truffaut to Scorsese to De Palma. So here’s what I find out on my second take of it.

A retired detective stuck with an accident and paralyzed by fear of heights, an intriguing new assignment from an old friend to stalk his obsessive and mysterious wife trying to commit suicide and the continuing enigma to bizarre plot full of twists and surprises. It’s haunting tale of deception, obsession and death and it’s absolutely classic more in terms of psychological complexity of its characters than plot. Hitchcock wonderfully played psychological hide and seek not only with complexity of plot of its two protagonists- a private eye suffering from acrophobia (fear of heights) and an enigmatic lady suffering with her jigsaw puzzle past and a desperate urge to suicide. We see an engrossing stalking, followed by romance, a suicide attempt than a real suicide and what follow is guilt and finally a cure for illness. One has to watch how wonderfully Hitchcock also used spirals in the film as props- spiral in the hair of the lady in portrait, curvy roads, historical old wooden tree and a staircase of tower.  

Hitchcock brilliantly played suspense filmmaker’s double cross to his audience. Beginning with an engrossing incident, than create a false premise and plot to intrigue and engage the audience’s psychology to solve the mystery with ambiguous and clever narration and than revealing the surprise twist to the other face of the plot. But here he did something extra, stretching the drama and plot even after revealing the suspense to let his audience drawn towards tale of psychological guilt mixed with obsessed romance that wonderfully summing up testing and curing the guilt consciousness of both protagonists on the screen with returning to that suicidal top of church tower.   

Perhaps none of Hitchcock films seems so visually vivid and colorful portraying cityscapes of San Francisco in ‘Vertigo’. His two ace men and long time collaborators of sound and vision- Robert Burks as the man behind the camera with brilliant, stylish and innovative camera effects and Bernard Herrmann as the man behind the score worked wonderfully to make it a true timeless Hitchcock.  

No comments: