Sunday, November 11, 2007

Blog and Film as means of Learning

It is a well known fact that we cannot be taught in the same way as our parents or grandparents were. Nowadays, the Technology offers motivating ways to teach and learn that all teachers should take into account. In this sense, we are very glad to have worked with Blog as we think that this is a very helpful and motivating tool to work with. Clearly it is not the same a research made with a Blog and a research made in papers.
As a group, before taking this course and doing this Blog,we agreed that after seeing a movie the first things that we usually said was if we liked the film or not, but without giving any powerful reason and tending to qualify films as good or bad using a weak criteria that was based on our personal tastes, and at the same time we felt that we had neither the words nor the tools to go beyond the entertainment that films provide.
Now that we’ve concluded our blog, we feel that we have those words and tools that we needed to express ourselves and thoughts. Thus, many conclusions come to our minds since this task we’ve been asked to do has involved a lot of deep research.
There is no doubt that this has allowed us to open our minds and find out different points of appreciation about films that we used to ignore in the past.
Consequently, we’ve learned to recognize films that were made many years ago as something really valuable taking into account that our actual cinema would have never developed if films like this had not been done.
By doing this research and studying films, we have been provided new issues of conversation that involve cultures, audiences , historical stages and other appreciations that depend on what kind of audience you belong to. At the end of our blog we feel that we have become part of more educated audience that doesn’t only watch films for pleasure but for cultural interests and purposes as well.

Something that all of us have agreed as a future English teachers is that we will use films in teaching in order not only to improve our students' language skills but also to make students think deeply about all the aspects that cinema involves and that are usually ignored by ordinary audiences; the purpose is always the same: to get a wider point of view about cinema as a cultural phenomenon. Also , Technology will play a fundamental role in our teaching method.

We would like to conclude that Hitchcock is what we really call an author since he shows a different aesthetic perspective and his work is a good example of the influence that Literature has on cinema since the latter is what is commonly known as the seventh art and that needs the contribution of the other art forms ;otherwise, it wouldn’t exist on its own.
Vertigo is a film in which we have gone beyond the surface but the deep content of it, and all what this film has involved that is not only the director's creativity but other essential elements that provide illusion the audience, the illusion that everything is taking place in front of us. That is the magic that Vertigo and only good films have when they are real pieces of art.
Personally, we admire Hitchcock as an artist because of his ability to capture different emotions in visual terms through the lens of the camera.
Finally, we are glad that we've accomplished our task in personal terms because there is a big change in our perspectives on cinema, and the knowledge that we have now is something that we'll never forget and we are sure it will be useful not only in the present but in the future as well.

Claudia CarriĆ³n
Macarena Honorato
Andrea Lobo

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Our film in comparison with other films of the class

"Always make the audience suffer as much as possible" Alfred Hitchcock

Before making the relation between our classmates' blogs with Vertigo, we would like to mention first some points that involve all the films. Firstly, all directors, whose films we've been given to analyze, have made a significant contribution to the development of cinema ,and at the same time they have left an important legacy that have transcended time. Thus, films that were made more than fifty years ago are still object of study for learners like us. Another thing that characterizes all these films is the fact that there is no excessive use of special effects that distract the audience from what is really important, that is to say, directors of the past knew how to take full advantage of simplest things and thus, they earned an important place in the cinema world.

By analysing other blogs, we found a coincidence that called our attention, and this is the participation of Bernard Hermann who was an important composer that not only created pieces of music for Vertigo but also for Citizen Kane. This remarkable composer had the ability to evoke different emotions and even the style of films. For instance, the short piece of music that introduces Vertigo suggests what film is about, and,somehow, it tells us that the film deals with issues like fears and phobias; in other words, the music has the ability to express feelings on its own, which means that the role of music is crucial in two ways: firstly, as a means of expression that neither words nor images can express, and secondly, as a help for the audience to guide their watching, which is closely related with genres as well.

On the other hand, by the time these films were made, directors had already been recognized as auteurs by the French journal Cahiers du Cinema ,and consequently they were able to transmit what they wished and explore new techniques getting their authenticity as real artists, so even though films share similar genres, they are expressed from different perspectives of their authors, and this is what makes them be unique and recognizable around the world.

Most of the films were made in the United States for example Casablanca, Rebel Without a Cause and the most celebrated movie of all the times: Citizen Kane. They were also made during different social stages having strong influence and impact on social audiences, so just as James Dean was an icon for the youth, Vertigo also had an emotional impact imposing suspense on a audience that was not accustomed to it.

Finally, we conclude that all the films we’ve been given to analyse fostered an ideology and became at the same time real vehicles of values since society has never reacted indifferent towards films like these.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

About the Main Cast

“I never said all actors are cattle; what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle.” Alfred Hitchcock

James Stewart (1908-1997)

As John Ferguson "Scottie"

He was born on July 20th 1908 in Indiana, Pennsylvania and became on of the best actors of America.
After graduating in 1932 from Princeton University (where he studied Architecture) , he was convinced by Joshua Logan to begin acting.
During the early years of his career he acted in musicals, for example Born To Dance (1936) and romantic comedies. Soon he received an Academy Award nomination for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and in 1940 he won the Oscar for The Philadelphia Story.
During the Second World War, he was sent to Germany for several missions as a bomber pilot, and then he got a better rank as a colonel. He won the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross and later he got the rank of Brigadier General in the Air Force Reserve.
After the War, he acted in It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Harvey (1950) ,and Anatomy of a Murder (1959) films that were nominated to the Oscar.
In 1949 he married Gloria Hatrick with whom he had two daughters. They were together almost forty-five years until Gloria died in 1994. On July 2nd 1997 he died from a heart attack at his Hollywood home.
In 1990, he was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
It is said that he was extremely polite, shy manner and that he had a drawl in his voice. He was one of the most loved actors in America.

Film Highlights

This side of heaven (1934) ; Art Trouble (1934) ; The Murder Man (1935) ; Small Town Girl (1936) ; Next Time We Love (1936) ; Important News (1936) ; After the Thin Man (1936) ; Rose Marie (1936) ; Wife vs Secretary (1936) ; Speed (1936) ; The Gorgeous Hussy (1936) ; Born to Dance (1936) ; Navy Blue and Gold (1937) ; The Last Gangster (1937) ; Seventh Heaven (1937) ; Vivacious Lady (1938) ; Of Human Hearts (1938) ; The Shopworn Angel (1938) ; You Can't Take It With You (1938) ; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) ; It's a Wonderful World (1939); Ice Follies (1939) ; Made For Each Other (1939) ; Destry Rides Again (1939); The Shop Around The Corner (1939); The Philadelphia Story (1940) ; No Time For Comedy (1940); The Mortal Storm (1940); Ziegfeld Girl (1941); Pot o' Gold (1941); Thunderbolt (1945) ; It's a Wonderful Life (1946) ; Magic Town (1947) ; You Gotta Stay Happy (1948) ; Rope (1948) ; Call Northside 777 (1948) ; On Our Merry Way (A Miracle Can Happen) (1948) ; The Stration Story (1949); Malaya (1949) ; Winchester'73 (1950); The Jackpot (1950) ; Harvey (1950) ; Broken Arrow (1950) ; No Highway in the Sky (1951) ; The Naked Spur (1952) ; Carbine Williams (1952); The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) ; Bend of The River (1952) ; Thunder Bay (1953); Rear Window (1954) ; The Glenn Miller Story (1954); Strategic Air Command (1955); The Man from Laramie (1955); The Far Country (1955); The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) ; The Spirit of St. Louis (1957); Night Passage (1957); Vertigo (1958); Bell, Book and Candle (1958); The FBI Story (1959); The Mountain Road (1960); Two Rode Together (1961); The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962); Mr. Hobbs takes a Vacation (1962); How the West Was Won (1962) ; Take Her, She is Mine (1963); Cheyenne Autumn (1964); Dear Brigitte (1965); Shenandoah (1965); The Flight of the Phoenix (1965); The Rare Breed (1966); Fire creek (1968); Bandolero! (1968); The Cheyenne Social Club (1970); Fools' Parade (1971); That's Entertainment (1974); The Shootlist (1976); Airport '77 (1977); The Magic of Lassie (1978); The Big Sleep (1978); A Century of Cinema (1994).

This information has been taken and adapted from the following sources :

Obsessed With Vertigo.Dir. Harrison Engle. DVD. American Classic Movies 1997

The Film Highlights and the Biography of the actors were taken from "the bonus material" contained in a version of the film Vertigo

Kim Novak (1933 - Present )
As Madeleine and Judy Barton

Kim Novak was born as Marylin Pauline Novak on February 13, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois. When she was a teenager he used to work as a model. Due to her job, she had to tour the country on an advertising campaign for a refrigerator manufacturer.
After this tour she signed contract that lasted six months at Columbia Pictures. Harry Cohon, Studio Chief, wanted her to replace Rita Hayworth and compete with the beauty of Marylin Monroe. At that time, Kim Novak still used her name Marilyn Novak, but after several disagreement, she and the studio settled on the stage name Kim Novak.
After taking acting lessons, she debuted in Pushover (1954) as Lona McLane.
Possibly, among her most well-known performances are: The Man With the Golden Arm (1955) where she played Molly ; Joshua Logan's Picnic (1955) where she played Madge and won a Gold won a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer and for World Film Favorite, and she was also nominated for Best Foreign Actress ; Vertigo (1958) where she played Madeleine Elster and Judy Barton.
During the 1960s she acted in films such as The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders; (1965) The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968) among others.

On March 12, 1976 she married Dr. Robert Malloy with whom she lives until today in California.

Film Highlights

Pushover (1954); Phffft (1954); The French Line (1954); Son of Sinbad (1955); Picnic (1955); The Man With The Golden Arm (1955); 5 Against the House (1955); The Eddy Duchin Story (1956); Pal Joey (1957); Jeanne Eagels (1957); Vertigo (1958); Bell, Book and Candle (1958); Middle of the Night (1959); Strangers When We Meet (1950); Pepe (1960); The Notorious Landlady (1962); Boys' Night Out (1962); Of Human Bondage (1962); Kiss Me, Stupid (1964); The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965); The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968); The Great Bank Robbery (1969); Tales That Witness Madness (1973); Massacre at Blood Bath Drive-in (1976); The White Buffalo (1977); Just a Gigolo (1979); The Mirror Crack'd (1980); Es hat mich sehr gefreut (1987); The Children (1990); Liebestraum (1991).

This information has been taken and adapted from the following sources :

Obsessed With Vertigo.Dir. Harrison Engle. DVD. American Classic Movies 1997
The Film Highlights and the Biography of the actors were taken from "the bonus material" contained in a version of the film Vertigo (Hitchcock, Alfred, dir. Vertigo. Universal Studios 2005)

Barbara Bel Geddes (1933 - 2005)
(as Midge Wood)

She was born on October 31, 1922 in New York City. Her father was Norman Bel Geddes,a well respected stage designer.
She began her stage carreer when she was a teenager and she acted in several shows in New York. In 1945 she acted in "Deep are the Roots," and for her performance she won an Award.
Her film debut was in 1947 in The Long Night.In 1947, after working hardly, she received an Academy Award nomination for "I remember Mama".
She is also famous for her TV performances;for example, in Alfred Hitchcock Presents, she played a housewife who murders her husband, but it is the role that she had on the Tv's long-running series Dallas the one that she is remembered for. On that series, she plays Miss Ellie Ewing, the benign matriarch of a dysfunctional Texas family.
Unfortunately, after several problems of health, Barbara Bel Geddes died on August 2nd 2005, due to lung cancer.

Film Highlights

The Long Night (1947); Caught (1948); Blood on the Moon (1948); I Remember Mama (1948); Panic in the Streets (1950); Fourteen Hours (1951); Vertigo (1958) The Five Pennies (1959); 5 Branded Women (1960); By Love Possessed (1961); The Todd Killings (A Dangerous Friend) (1971); Summertree (1971).

This information has been taken and adapted from the following sources :
Obsessed With Vertigo.Dir. Harrison Engle. DVD. American Classic Movies 1997
The Film Highlights and the Biography of the actors were taken from "the bonus material" contained in a version of the film Vertigo (Hitchcock, Alfred, dir. Vertigo. Universal Studios 2005)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Main Genre of Vertigo: Drama

“In feature films the director is God; in documentary films God is the director” Alfred Hitchcock

Vertigo : Drama versus Thriller

In class, we've learnt that all films have a main Genre and secondary Genres that define them. At the beginning, it was difficult for us to establish what the main Genre of Vertigo was, whether it was Drama or a Thriller. The reasons :

Vertigo , a Thriller ?

On the one hand, some websites defined Vertigo as a Thriller (1). On the other hand, the Thriller has always been associated with Alfred Hitchcock but, as a Genre it has received very little attention (2). While doing our research into the Thriller, we learnt that it had been sub-classified into six major sub-types by Charles Derry (3):

  1. The thriller of murderous passion : "Where we can find a love triangle and the main scene is about the murder of one member of that triangle by other or others member of that triangle "(4). Vertigo cannot be defined as a Thriller of murderous passion, because it does not exist a real love triangle. Let us remind you that Madeleine is not really Elster's wife, so we do not know if Elster is in love with his wife, and there is not a murder of one member of the triangle at the hands of other.
  2. The Political Thriller: It deals with plots related to assassination of a political figure or issues related to the government. Vertigo definitely does not enter into this category(5).
  3. The Thriller of acquired identity : "Films organized around a protagonist's acquisition of an unaccustomed identity, his or her behaviour in coming to terms of metaphysical and physical consequences of this identity, and the relationship of this acquisitions to a murderous plot"(6). This characteristic are not present in Vertigo. In Vertigo, neither of the characters acquires an unaccustomed identity that leads them to a murder.
  4. The Psychotraumatic thriller: it is "Organised around the psychotic effects of a trauma on a protagonist's current involvement in love affair and a crime or intrigue. The protagonist is always a victim - generally of some past trauma and often of real villains who take advantage of his or her masochist guilt (7). Here we found a parallel between a sub-type of Thriller and Vertigo. Scottie suffers from Vertigo and the consequences that this phobia had (the death of the policeman) make him feel very guilty. Elster took advantage of Scottie's phobia, when he decided to use him in his plan to murder his wife.
  5. The thriller of moral confrontation : "It is organised around an overt anti ethical confrontation between a character representing good or innocence and a character representing evil"(8). Vertigo is not exactly a film that can be defined by these terms because neither of the characters represent exactly this characteristics.
  6. The innocent-on-the-run thriller : Which "is organized around an innocent victim's coincidental entry into the midst of global intrigue" and in which "the victim often finds himself running both from the police or the villains"(9). Neither this sub-type defines the Genre of Vertigo. Scottie does not escape from any villain of the film.

The Main Genre of Vertigo : Drama

As we've learnt in class, one element in Drama genre can be identified as "portrayal of life situations and characters in conflict with themselves, other or forces of nature"(10). In Vertigo we can find these elements. For instance, the main character, Scottie, has a conflict with himself. He feels guilty about the death of his workmate, later he feels guilty about the death of Madeleine and his phobia is presented throughout the movie as a conflict of Scottie with himself, which at the end , can be solved.
Another characteristic of Drama film is that "human beings are shown at their best, their worst and everything in between" (11). This film, is based in a detective story. The "detective genre" has more possibilities to show the human being in all the situations mentioned before, since there will always be a human being observed by some other. In Vertigo for example, the audience sees Scottie at his worst, for example when he is suffering from depression in the hospital ,and he is unable to speak. Elster, at the beginning is shown as a man that is worried about his wife, but finally the audience learns that he was planning the murder of his own wife, which shows a human being at his worst, as a parricide. Scottie as a detective sees Madeleine/Judy in situations such as: The most beautiful woman in a restaurant and then as the victim of a dead person that possess her and tries to kill her or the woman that is accomplice of a murder.
"Drama also touches a broad spectrum of issues, such as alcoholism, mental illness or social issues, among others" (12). Vertigo touches several issues too. For example, a phobia, that can be considered as a mental disorder that has many consequences in the life of Scottie. Love in different aspects: The love that Midge feels for Scottie, the Love that Scottie feels for Madeleine/Judy and vice versa. The crime of a woman, in which his husband, Elster and Judy Barton are responsible. A supernatural phenomenon: Madeleine is possessed by a dead person. An obsession: Scottie becomes extremely obsessed with Madeleine.

To sum up, we think that Drama is the main Genre of Vertigo,and Thriller a secondary one because in spite of the fact that we found that Vertigo could enter into a sub-type of Thriller, defining Vertigo as a Thriller is to limit all its content, its symbols, its motifs and its themes, because the phobia is not the only issue that this film touches.
Also, Vertigo was considered in some websites as a
"Film Noir, but film noir is not a genre but the mood, style, point-of-view or tone of a film"(13).

This post was made thanks to information found at :

(1) See : ;,Vertigo.html

Bernink, Mieke and Pam Cook. The Cinema Book.BFI Publishing. 2nd Edition: Britain 1999.179
(3)Bernink, Mieke and Pam Cook. The Cinema Book.BFI Publishing. 179
(4)Bernink, Mieke and Pam Cook. The Cinema Book.BFI Publishing.179
(5)Bernink, Mieke and Pam Cook. The Cinema Book.BFI Publishing. 179
(6)Bernink, Mieke and Pam Cook. The Cinema Book.BFI Publishing. 180
(7)Bernink, Mieke and Pam Cook. The Cinema Book.BFI Publishing. 180
(8)Bernink, Mieke and Pam Cook. The Cinema Book.BFI Publishing. 180
(9) Bernink, Mieke and Pam Cook. The Cinema Book.BFI Publishing.180
(10)Salazar, Miriam. "What is Genre". Santiago 22 October 2007
(11)Salazar, Miriam. "What is Genre". Santiago 22 October 2007
Salazar, Miriam. "What is Genre". Santiago 22 October 2007
(13)Salazar, Miriam. "What is Genre". Santiago 22 October 2007

Vertigo : A messsage inside

“If it's a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on.” Alfred Hitchcock

The profound content of Vertigo seems arcane, even after watching the movie several times. Only a master like Alfred Hitchcock could develop a work of art with so many internal relationships.
The way in which themes are treated, the colours that Alfred Hitchcock chose, the symbolic meaning of each element in the movie, the clothes of the characters and their psychological characteristics denote an intense work and perhaps they are all a reflect of Hitchcock's soul.

Only a masterpiece is appreciated by different generations. If a work of art is not good enough, it dies. Vertigo has been appreciated since its date of release.

In this post, we are going to mention some symbols, motifs and themes that we seen in the movie. Certainly, Vertigo has many more, but some of them are part of a large list and the others are wrapped in secrecy by the movie itself.

1. Symbols "
something that is used to represent a quality or idea" (From Cambridge, Advanced Learner's Dictionary)

1.1 Colours:
If we recap main scenes of Vertig
o we will remember two colours clearly: Red and Green. The red colour is sometimes related to Danger (1). The first scene where we can see Red as a main colour is the scene at Ernie's Restaurant, where Scottie saw Madeleine for the first time. Red is also the colour of the Bridge, near of which Madeleine was about to commit suicide. Also in a nightmare that Scottie had, red appeared intermittently. The images that he saw combined with red were: images of himself at the court with Elster and Carlotta Valdes.Carlotta Valdes looks at Scottie in a way that seems to be asking for help. In the scene at the court, Elster had told Scottie "It was my responsibility, I should not have involved you"; The portrait of Carlotta, in which her necklace is shown in extreme close-up, maybe suggesting what Scottie should pay attention to in the future (maybe to solve a crime). Finally, himself walking towards a grave and then falling over a roof, that seems to be the same where Madeleine had fallen.When Judy begins remembering what had happened in the tower, red also appears.
Green is a recurrent colour in th
e film. Although sometimes green represents life, it can also represent the ghostly or uncanny(2) In folk-tales, for example green represents the Spring, but also it is related with life after death embodied by ghosts and spirits(3)and it is used as such in important scenes of the film. From Vertigo, "Vert" means Green in French, and if we consider green as representing death we will find a close relation between this meaning and the former name for this movie that was "From among the Dead".

At Ernie's Restaurant, Madeleine wears a green gown and her car is also green.Green is the colour of the lawn next to the tower, the sequoia trees are green and the neon sign at the Empire Hotel is green too. This sign has a special meaning when its light was reflected on Judy when she was transformed into Madeleine. That made her look as if she was coming from among
the dead.

1.2 Phallic symbols: The Coit Tower is considered as a phallic symbol. It is said that the main character of the novel "D'entre les morts" by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac was impotent. The tower can be seen from Scottie's apartment. It is said that Hitchcock chose deliberately this place to show the tower. In a scene Madeleine told Scottie that she had found his apartment thanks to the tower,Scottie said that that was the first time he was grateful for Coit Tower(4).Another phallic symbol seen in the movie, is the stick with which Scottie appears playing at Midge's apartment. Scottie says about the stick "I will throw this miserable thing out of the window".

2. Motifs
Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major theme (5)

2.1 Spiral : The spiral is present in several parts of the film. At the beginning of the movie, it comes from an eye. The spiral is part of the hairstyle of Madeleine and Carlotta Valdes, representing the spiral into which she will lead Scottie.
The stairs at the bell tower also have a spiral shape, that show the dizziness that Scottie feels while being in high places. There is a spiral inside the tree where Madeleine settles her date of birthday that may symbolize Life itself: We all come to this world but then we die. Madeleine travels around the city, in a way that seems to be circular, also symbolizing the feeling she is leading Scottie to: The Vertigo.

2.2 Bunch of Flowers : At the beginning of the movie, Madeleine buys a beautiful and delicate bunch of flowers. The beauty and delicacy of this bouquet represents Madeleine beauty and femininity. When she is about to throw herself into the water, she tears flowers. This act may symbolize her own destruction. The bunch of flowers also appears in the nightmare that Scottie had. First we can see the bunch of flowers and its petals being released little by little. Before this bunch was destroyed, the colour green appears intermittently, anticipating and symbolizing death.

3. Themes: Main ideas in Vertigo

3.1 Death shown in different aspects :
The movie touches death from several points of view.
In the movie the death is shown as a consequence of an accident :From the very beginning of the movie, death is present. Few minutes after the movie begins, a policeman dies and Scottie does not fall from the tower and dies thanks to a "miracle" (it is not clear how Scottie managed to climb the roof of the tower). Death as the consequence of a murder plan : For example, the death of Elster's wife. Death and a supernatural phenomenon shown in a relation between dead and not dead people. Madeleine is apparently possessed by a person who is dead. Death is also presented to the audience in a psychological level. After Madeleine dies Scottie tried to make Judy the living image of Madeleine. In the scene where Judy comes from the bathroom, the green light of the sign of the hotel is reflected on her body. When Judy as just left the bathroom, she looks transparent (like a ghost), and then, she is little by little the reflect of the green light, that represents death.

The information included in this blog was taken and adapted from :


Friday, September 7, 2007

What is this movie about ?

"Drama is life with the dull bits cut out. " Alfred Hitchcock

This movie is about a policeman, John Ferguson (Scottie) who suffers from acrophobia (This is, "extreme or irrational fear to heights").
At the beginning of the movie, Scottie runs with another policeman over some towers of San Francisco. They are pursuing a thief.
One of those policemen jumps from one tower to another and continues the pursuit. The second policeman, Scottie, slips down a steep roof and ends up hanging from a gutter.
When the other policeman realizes that Scottie is in trouble, he goes back and tries to give Scottie his hand in order to prevent him from falling.
Scottie, tries hard to reach the policeman's hand but he fails and finally is the policeman who tries to save him from death the one who falls from the top of the tower and dies. After this dramatic event, Scottie quits his job as policeman.

Some time after this event, Scottie is called by Gavin Elster.
Elster's wife has had an unusual behaviour and he asks Scottie to follow her. He tells Scottie that his wife (Madeleine) is probably possessed by a dead person.
Scottie, who does not believe in those things, asks Elster to take his wife to the doctor, but Elster refuses and says that he prefers Scottie to follow her. Since Elster is an old friend, Scottie finally accepts.
Scottie sees Madeleine at Elster's Restaurant for the first time and immediately he falls in love with her.

During the following days, Scottie begins following Madeleine and he becomes really worried about the way she behaves. She visits a museum and gazes at the portrait of a lady called Carlotta Valdes for a long time. After that, she goes to the grave of this woman to let her flowers.

Scottie asks himself who the woman in the portrait is, and what does she has to do with Madeleine.
Elster reveals that Carlotta Valdes is Madeleine's great grand mother.After knowing this, Scottie becomes obssessed with Madeleine and keeps her under careful surveillance. Furthermore, he saves her from committing suicide.
After this event they become closer and she tells Scottie that there is someone inside her that tells her that she must die. At that moment she also mentions the tower of a church.

Trying to do his best, Scottie takes Madeleine to a place that resembles the place that she describes. This place is an old Spanish mission. When they arrive in the mission, Madeleine escapes and goes upstairs in the tower of its church. Scottie, while going upstairs in order to save her, feels the vertigo again, in the same way as he felt it when hanging from the gutter. The vertigo makes Scottie fail at saving Madeleine.

Devastated and feeling a great guilt, Scottie is hospitalized.But one day, after leaving the hospital, he sees a woman that resembles Madeleine. He knows that Madeleine is dead because he saw her, but could she be Madeleine ? That is what Scottie is about to find out.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

History of "Vertigo"

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them" Alfred Hitchcock

Choosing a place

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

In 1951, Alfred Hitchcock visited San Francisco for the opening of "Strangers on a Train". According to his daughter, Patricia Hitchcock, "He loved San Francisco. He felt it was a very glamorous city. He felt it was rather like an American Paris". It is said that Hitchcock liked to present the audience "a peaceful place and then introduce an unexpected twist of malice".

Alfred Hitchock had observed the Golden Gate Bridge and was tremendously inspired.
The only element missing was a story to support the movie, until he found "D'entre les morts" (From Among the Dead). After having the story for his film and all the settings in his mind he asked his associated producer, Herbert Coleman to look for Spanish missions for the "key scenes".

Mission Old San Juan Bautista

In 1955, Herbert Coleman visited the Mission Old San Juan Bautista. This place, located 97 miles south San Francisco, was built in 1797 and since then, it has served mass. It has also resisted earthquakes. The first one took place on October 1800 and the other one in 1906. In reality, the bell tower that appears in the most important scenes of the film does not exist. It had been destroyed in a fire a long time ago, so Hitchcock added it by means of photography tricks.
The Cast

Regarding the cast, James Stewart seemed to be the perfect person to play a detective with fear of heights.

Vera Miles

Originally, the role of Madeleine was going to be played by Vera Miles. But problems appeared : Hitchcock had to had an operation and by the time he recovered, Vera Miles announced that she was pregnant and that she could not do the film. Finally Kim Novak was chosen as the object of the detective's obsession.

The costumes were in charge of Edith Head, who also had an important role in Vertigo. She was one of the most important costume design
er in Hollywood. Let us remind you that clothes take an important role in Vertigo. The grey suit or the dress that Madeleine wears at Ernie's or the white coat, are also part of Scottie's obsessions.
Hitchcock was very clear about what kind of clothes he wanted for his films and its colours.

The Story

After Hitchcock and his wife had carefully studied the story for the film, they hired the first screen writer, Maxwell Anderson who turned in a screenplay called "Darklin I Listen" that was not satisfactory at all. Then, Alec Coppel worked on this script and changed its name to "From Among the Dead". It contained scenes such as the rooftop opening, the dream sequence and scenes at the Spanish mission. But Hitchcock and James Stewart were still unhappy about the script,so a new writer was hired. He was Samuel Taylor and he worked for one year on the screenplay and did a great improvement. He added Midge and developed James Stewart's character,and he decided to reveal Madeleine's identity to the audience two-thirds of the way into the film rather than at the end.

By 1957, the location shooting began mainly in San Francisco and the title of this movie was "From Among The Dead". Hitchcock did not like to shoot on real locations. Instead, he would get the outside places and then build a set on the stage in order to be able to control the lights and the actors. Henry Bumstead designed all the individual sets for Vertigo, including the inside part of the Bell Tower. The set for the bell tower was seventy feet high, so it gave Hitchcock's stars a real feeling of vertigo.

The vertigo effect was achieved b
y a combination of zooming forward and tracking backward simultaneously. It was necessary to build a large-scale model of a staircase. It was filmed by cameraman John Fulton.
The spiral, a symbol of the movie, was designed to express the feeling that Vertigo produces.

Robert Burks carried out Hitchcock's cholor scheme of reds and greens and used fog filters to create a dreamlike atmosphere. Green is important because it has a symbolic role in the movie.
This Masterpiece was going to be lost, but fortunately it was restored by James Katz and Robert Harris in 1996. This work lasted for two years.

This post was made thanks to the information found on :

Special thanks to the following Documentary:
Obsessed With Vertigo.Dir. Harrison Engle. DVD. American Classic Movies 1997
In which this post has been mainly based.