Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: James Stewart, Kim Novak
Genre: Mystery, Romance, Thriller
“Scottie, do you believe that someone out of the past – someone dead – can enter and take possession of a living being?”
Considered by many people the best Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, Vertigo, has a story that gives you creeps, although it is not a horror film. I mean, you won’t forget very easily this movie. Hitchcock reached his “artistic maturity” with this masterpiece, just to bring 2 years later another incredible movie: Psycho (1960).
The story follows John Ferguson (James Stewart), an ex-detective that suffered an accident while chasing a felon. During this chase, his colleague dies, and “Scottie” decides to retire. From this unfortunate tragedy, the protagonist starts to develop acrophobia, which is an irrational fear of heights.
An old friend from college, Gavin Elster, asks him to follow his wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak) because she is in some sort of danger. Eventually, Scottie accepts because he is intrigued. In the following days, he sees a strange behavior from Madeleine, who seems to be a completely different person sometimes. This “new” person resembles Carlotta Valdes, a woman from a painting Madeleine admires almost daily. That’s all I’m gonna tell you about the plot. It’s a very unpredictable twist, and the ending is, also, shocking.
On the acting part, the main characters are great. James Stewart has a convincing play, wonderful chemistry with Kim Novak, who also is delightful. The suspense is built with a lot of elements such as the soundtrack, dolly zoom (or contra-zoom), a camera effect that appears to undermine normal visual perception. This effect is used for the first time in this movie, and after that, other directors decided to implement the same effect in movies like Jaws, Goodfellas, and Lord of the Rings. Another thing that contributes to the suspense is the unpredictable twists and, of course, the interpretation from these 2 amazing actors.
I can’t imagine what was like for the people from 1958, who watched this movie in premiere because in 2020 I was shocked after watching this masterpiece, and I saw it 2 times before, so I know the plot. I couldn’t forget it for the first time. So good it is!
It only remains to recommend this piece of art because this is a movie you have to watch at least once in your lifetime.