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Film Details

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Produced: 1958

Countries & Regions: United States

Blu-ray Details

Certificate: PG

Studio: Universal Pictures

Length: 124 mins

Format: Blu-ray

Region: Region B

Released: 23 September 2013

Cat No: 8295831

Extras:
Languages(s): English
Interactive Menu

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Vertigo

Cast: James Stewart , Kim Novak , Barbara Bel Geddes , Lee Patrick , Konstantin Shayne , Henry Jones , Ellen Corby , Raymond Bailey , Tom Helmore , Paul Bryar , Fred Graham , William Remick , Julian Petruzzi , Sara Taft , Mollie Dodd

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A classic study in obsession from Alfred Hitchcock. After his fear of heights indirectly causes the death of a colleague, San Francisco... Read More

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A classic study in obsession from Alfred Hitchcock. After his fear of heights indirectly causes the death of a colleague, San Francisco cop Scottie (James Stewart) retires. He is subsequently hired by magnate Gavin Elster to follow his wife, Madeleine (Kim Novak), as Elster says he fears for her life. Scottie becomes bewitched by Madeleine, falling in love with her after saving her from a suicide attempt. Then, when Scottie’s vertigo prevents him saving Madeleine from a second attempt to kill herself, he becomes obsessed with recreating the dead woman’s image.

If North by Northwest is close to flawless, then Vertigo is a reminder that films can prove still more rewarding when they are risky and unnerving as well as displaying consumate artistry (a good film may exhibit one or the other of these characteristics, a great film has both). Hitchcock, in common with many filmmakers, seemed in many of his films to be searching for the reason why he had opted to be a director- for he was not blind to the darker motivations inherent in this mode of audience manipulation and the encouragement it gives to our voyeuristic inclinations. Being Hitch, he would never allow this darker side to surface sufficiently to incur open hostility (as Powell suffered with 'Peeping Tom'). But Vertigo comes close. Comfortably, Hitch's most disturbing work and his most thought-provoking. However, voyeurism is a theme common to many Hitchcock movies. What Vertigo adds is a complex study of memory - how it functions, how we can become prisoners of our own memories - how easy it is to lose our balance and slip. It is no surprise that the film performed poorly at the box office upon release, that it was the French who were in the vanguard of restoring its reputation and that it finds increasing favour with filmmakers and atists alike (notably Chris Marker's Sans Soleil). Finally, look at Vertigo for its scene pairings. The first scene of a pair will act as a prelude to its revisiting later in the movie (like a slow movement to a faster movement in a concerto). As an example take the scene in which Novak emerges from Stewart's bedroom after he rescues her from the bay. Now compare that scene (in its lay-out, camera movement and music) with the one much later in which she emerges from the bathroom, bathed in green light. The emotion awakened in the first scene reaches its 'consumation' in the subsequent scene - a repeat of the first but with suitably heightened effect.

Recommendations for one of the great Hitchcock masterpieces, of course, are unnecessary. But there are some compelling reasons for buying this latest incarnation of the film. The Universal Vertigo 50th anniversary edition release boasts a slew of tempting extras (it's a two disc set) including a commentary with the associate producer, several totally new ‘making of’ documentaries. It is, one might say, the definitive edition.

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