Film: Vertigo

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Film: Vertigo

Film: Vertigo

Vertigo is a 1958 psychological thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock that has become a cult classic in the world of cinema. It stars James Stewart and Kim Novak and is known for its suspenseful story, stunning cinematography, and memorable score by Bernard Herrmann.

Key Takeaways

  • Vertigo is a psychological thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
  • The film stars James Stewart and Kim Novak.
  • It is known for its suspenseful story, stunning cinematography, and memorable score.

**Vertigo** tells the story of Scottie Ferguson (played by James Stewart), a retired police detective who suffers from acrophobia and is hired to investigate the strange behavior of an old friend’s wife, Madeleine Elster (played by Kim Novak). As Scottie becomes increasingly obsessed with Madeleine, he unravels a web of mystery and deception that leads him down a dangerous path.

Director Alfred Hitchcock
Starring James Stewart, Kim Novak
Genre Thriller, Mystery

One of the **most notable aspects** of Vertigo is its **cinematography**. The film features breathtaking views of San Francisco and innovative camera techniques that enhance the sense of unease and disorientation experienced by the characters and the audience. Alfred Hitchcock’s meticulous attention to detail is evident throughout the film, creating a visually stunning experience.

Vertigo also **explores themes** of **obsession** and **identity**. The character of Scottie Ferguson becomes deeply consumed by his infatuation with Madeleine, blurring the lines between reality and illusion. The film delves into the psychological effects of obsession and the complexities of human identity, making it a thought-provoking watch.

  1. Vertigo is a psychological thriller film.
  2. The film explores themes of obsession and identity.
  3. It features stunning cinematography and innovative camera techniques.
Films Awards
Vertigo 1958 Nominated for 2 Academy Awards
Psycho 1960 Nominated for 4 Academy Awards

Overall, **Vertigo** is a compelling and visually stunning film that deserves its reputation as one of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest works. Its exploration of obsession and identity, coupled with its innovative cinematography, creates a truly memorable viewing experience.


  • IMDb. (n.d.). Vertigo (1958). Retrieved from

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Common Misconceptions – Film: Vertigo

Common Misconceptions

Misconception: Vertigo is a horror film

  • Vertigo is often mistaken for a horror film due to its mysterious and suspenseful elements.
  • However, it is actually a psychological thriller that explores themes of obsession and identity.
  • The haunting visuals and intense atmosphere may give the impression of a horror film, but the story is more focused on psychological exploration.

Misconception: Vertigo has a linear narrative

  • Contrary to popular belief, Vertigo does not follow a straightforward narrative structure.
  • The film employs complex narrative techniques, including flashbacks and dream sequences.
  • These unconventional storytelling methods contribute to the disorienting and psychological nature of the film.

Misconception: Vertigo is a universally beloved film

  • While Vertigo is widely regarded as a classic and has received critical acclaim over the years, it was not initially a commercial success.
  • Upon its release in 1958, the film received mixed reviews and did not perform well at the box office.
  • It was only later, after being reassessed by critics and audiences, that Vertigo gained its status as one of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest works.

Misconception: Vertigo is a straightforward love story

  • Although Vertigo explores themes of romance, it delves into much deeper psychological complexities.
  • The film grapples with themes of obsession, control, and manipulation.
  • The romantic storyline serves as a device to propel the psychological exploration at the heart of the film.

Misconception: Vertigo only appeals to film buffs

  • While Vertigo is undoubtedly appreciated by film enthusiasts for its innovative techniques and powerful storytelling, it can be enjoyed by a broader audience.
  • The themes of love, longing, and identity are universal and resonate with viewers from various backgrounds.
  • Vertigo’s blend of mystery, suspense, and psychological exploration can captivate any viewer with an interest in thought-provoking cinema.

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Table: Main Cast of Vertigo

Vertigo is a psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Released in 1958, the film stars the following actors in the main roles:

Actor Character
James Stewart John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson
Kim Novak Madeleine Elster / Judy Barton
Barbara Bel Geddes Midge Wood
Tom Helmore Gavin Elster

Table: Film Locations

The backdrop of Vertigo plays a significant role in setting the atmosphere and tone of the story. Here are some notable locations where the film was shot:

Location Description
San Francisco, California The majority of the story takes place in the iconic city, known for its steep hills and breathtaking scenery.
Mission San Juan Bautista, California One of the key locations where a critical scene unfolds, this historic mission adds depth to the narrative.

Table: Awards and Nominations

Vertigo, although initially receiving mixed reviews, has gained acclaim over the years for its innovative filmmaking style. The movie secured several noteworthy award nominations:

Award Category Result
Academy Awards Best Art Direction Nominated
BAFTA Film Awards Best Film from Any Source Nominated

Table: Box Office Performance

While not an immediate commercial success, Vertigo has become a classic and fared well at the box office:

Year Opening Weekend Total Gross
1958 $1,026,000 $7,212,923

Table: Critical Reception

Upon its release, Vertigo had a mixed critical reception. However, its reputation grew with time:

Critic Review Quote Rating
Bosley Crowther (The New York Times) “Vertigo is inimitable and fantastic… and it does leave an indelible, haunting memory.” Positive
Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) “Vertigo works not only as a suspense piece but as an obsessive study of the male gaze.” Positive

Table: Production Budget

The production budget for Vertigo was substantial at the time:

Category Cost
Production $2,479,000

Table: Director’s Vision

Alfred Hitchcock‘s vision for Vertigo brought several unique elements to the film:

Aspect Details
Camera Techniques Hitchcock employed dolly zoom shots to create a disorienting effect on the audience, heightening the film’s themes.
Color Palette The film primarily utilized bold colors to enhance the psychological impact of the story.

Table: Running Time

The running time of Vertigo is relatively longer compared to many films of the era:

Version Running Time
Theatrical 2 hours, 8 minutes

Table: Adaptation Source

Vertigo is based on a novel:

Title Author
Vertigo Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac

Conclusion: Vertigo, the renowned film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, combines elements of mystery, obsession, and psychological depth. The stellar performances of James Stewart and Kim Novak, coupled with Hitchcock’s unparalleled vision, have made Vertigo a landmark entry in the world of cinema. Though initially met with mixed reviews, the film has garnered critical acclaim as a classic, leaving an indelible mark on the industry and cementing its place in history.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Film: Vertigo

  • What is the plot of the film ‘Vertigo’?

    The film ‘Vertigo’ is a psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It tells the story of a detective suffering from acrophobia and vertigo, who becomes obsessed with a mysterious woman and faces a web of deception and betrayal.
  • When was the film ‘Vertigo’ released?

    The film ‘Vertigo’ was released on May 9, 1958.
  • Who are the main actors in ‘Vertigo’?

    The main actors in ‘Vertigo’ are James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, and Tom Helmore.
  • What is significant about the cinematography in ‘Vertigo’?

    The cinematography in ‘Vertigo’ is highly regarded for its innovative use of camera techniques and visual storytelling. It includes iconic scenes shot with the ‘vertigo effect’, which involves zooming in while simultaneously adjusting the camera’s focus to create a disorienting effect.
  • Who composed the music for ‘Vertigo’?

    The music for ‘Vertigo’ was composed by Bernard Herrmann, a frequent collaborator of Alfred Hitchcock. The score is known for its haunting and mesmerizing quality, contributing to the film’s suspenseful atmosphere.
  • Has ‘Vertigo’ received any awards or nominations?

    Yes, ‘Vertigo’ has received several accolades over the years. Though it initially received mixed reviews, it has gained recognition as one of Hitchcock’s finest works. In 2012, Sight & Sound magazine named it the greatest film of all time in their decennial critics’ poll.
  • What are some notable themes explored in ‘Vertigo’?

    Some notable themes explored in ‘Vertigo’ include obsession, identity, duality, and the manipulation of perception. The film delves into the complexities of human psychology and the fragility of reality, leaving audiences with profound questions about love, deception, and the nature of truth.
  • Did ‘Vertigo’ perform well at the box office?

    Although ‘Vertigo’ received positive reviews from critics, it underperformed at the box office upon initial release. It was not a commercial success, but over time it gained a devoted following, leading to its recognition as a masterpiece.
  • What is the symbolism behind the ‘Vertigo’ title?

    The title ‘Vertigo’ reflects both the physical and psychological aspects of the film. It refers to the protagonist’s fear of heights (acrophobia) but also alludes to the feeling of being disoriented or trapped in a complex web of illusions and obsessions, represented throughout the narrative.
  • Is ‘Vertigo’ suitable for all audiences?

    “Vertigo’ is rated PG (Parental Guidance) and may contain some intense scenes and themes that might not be appropriate for young children. It is generally recommended for mature audiences.”