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Movie Review: Vertigo

Updated on March 6, 2013

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The opening scene begins with detective Scottie’s nightmare.He is hanging on to a building and he looks down to see a narrow, long distance between him and the ground.The graphics are actually quite good for the time period.He attempts to overcome his acrophobia by taking gradual steps up a short stool.He looks up and down twice with no problem and he begins to gain confidence, but the third time he looks down the music plays dramatically as he sees the alley below him like in his dream.

He is asked to follow a woman, Madeline, to find out about her.As he followed her, the camera switched back and forth from Scottie’s point-of-view to her car.During this time it was just extended music playing and no dialogue.It built up anticipation effectively.He follows to a cemetery where she looks at a tombstone.After she leaves, Scottie examines it and loud, dramatic music plays showing the name “Carlotta Valdez”.This informed the viewer that this was relatively important information.Then he proceeds to follow her to a place where a picture of Carlotta Valdez’s picture is hanging on the wall.Madeline seems to be admiring it.They both have similar hair and the woman in the picture is wearing a necklace which foreshadows very subtly that it will be of relevance later on in the movie.He continues to follow her car on a strip of land until she reaches the Golden Gate Bridge.It is quite a beautiful scene, with the water glistening in the background.However, when Madeline drops flowers in the ocean, she falls in as well.Scottie decides to save her and takes her back to his house.

The chemistry between Madeline and Scottie develops rapidly and smoothly. He begins to question her about her life and becomes very intrigued with her as a person.No longer was he interested in her from a professional view, but rather a personal and intimate view.As the music picks up in a climactic tone, they kiss and the waves crash in the background.This could potentially symbolize how Scottie’s life was about to crash now that he was involved with Madeline on this level.

Hitchcock uses dreams much like the dreams in “Spellbound” in this movie.Madeline continues to have dreams of being in a red place.Scottie thinks he knows the place she is thinking of so he takes her to the barn.When they arrive they say that she must go do something in the church.The music picks up and she runs up the stairs as Scottie chases her.As she gets to the top, Scottie starts to suffer from vertigo and he can’t save her from jumping off (or he thought she jumped off).He looks out the window as he sees the body falling by it.This really gave the viewer a sense of disappointment because they really seemed to be a good match.

After her “death” he keeps seeing things that remind him of Madeline.He meets a girl named Judy that looks a lot like Madeline and takes her out to dinner.No words are said at dinner which creates tension and awkwardness.After seeing a shadow of her face that resembled Madeline, Scottie becomes obsessed with trying to make her look just like her.He eventually does and even gets her to do her hair just like her.The viewer gets the idea that deep down Scottie knew that it was Madeline basically all along.The dead giveaway, however, was given as they got ready to go to dinner and she exposed the same necklace that Carlotta Valdez wore in the picture.The music picks up and the Scottie starts to get very anxious to leave.He takes her back to the church to replay the circumstance of when Madeline supposedly jumped off the top.This is a repetition scene except this time his adrenaline is running so high that he is not even affected by vertigo when he reaches the top.However, this time Judy/Madeline really does jump when a nun comes to look into what was going on, leaving the viewer in shock as the movie comes to an abrupt end.


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