Vertigo

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Vertigo

  1. 1. Vertigo Colours , symbolism , motifs
  2. 2. Green <ul><li>The color green appears frequently throughout the film, typically in association with spooky/eerie images. </li></ul><ul><li>E.g. when Scottie first sees Madeleine in Ernie’s Restaurant, she stands out vividly from everyone else in the room because of her dramatic green stole, giving her a startling and somewhat unsettling appearance. </li></ul><ul><li>In his apartment, as he becomes more withdrawn from the outside world and immersed in a dream world, Scottie wears a green sweater. </li></ul><ul><li>Judy, who seems to be the ghost of Madeleine, first appears wearing a green dress. </li></ul><ul><li>Her room is illuminated at night by the building’s green neon sign, and when she emerges into Scottie’s view as the fully transformed Madeleine, she is bathed in the green light, making her look even more like the ghost of the dead Madeleine. Thus, while green sometimes symbolizes life, as in the sequoia forest, it also symbolizes the ghostly or uncanny. </li></ul><ul><li>Both associations with the color green are traditional and can be seen in the earliest folktales. For example, because green can represent the spring and the rebirth of nature, it is also associated with the life after death embodied by ghosts and spirits, as in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. </li></ul>
  3. 3. More about colour <ul><li>The color palette includes greens, which may represent etherealness. </li></ul><ul><li>When Madeleine first appears to Scottie, she is wearing a bright green dress, indicating her enigma and elusiveness which Scottie will be drawn into. </li></ul><ul><li>Similarly, Scottie first spies Judy reflected in a shop window, with a green sweater. </li></ul><ul><li>During the scene in which Judy emerges from the bathroom dressed completely as Madeleine, she is surrounded by an eerie green light, which may represent her &quot;resurrection&quot; by Scottie. </li></ul><ul><li>The colour of the car &quot;Madeleine&quot; drives is the same dark green as Judy's sweater, when they first meet. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Madeleine’s first appearance <ul><li>- the conclusion of a shot that begins with Scottie looking toward her (Scottie’s POV) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Madeleine presents herself <ul><li>As Madeleine presents herself to Scottie’s gaze, the red décor glows in intensity. This image is portrait-like and is repeated in the ‘Carlotta’ painting. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Judy’s green dress <ul><li>Which she is wearing when Scottie spots her on a San Francisco street </li></ul>
  7. 7. Madeleine’s white coat <ul><li>And grey suit; Judy in the black dress (without the green stole). Kim Novak resisted wearing white and gray, thought to be unflattering colours for blondes, but Hitchcock insisted. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Scottie’s red door, Madeleine’s green car
  9. 9. In the pivotal apartment scene <ul><li>Note the swap of colours, what is the significance of this? </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Empire Hotel <ul><li>In San Francisco, chosen because of its green neon sign; provides an ethereal quality to the scene. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Scottie’s pov <ul><li>Judy as Madeleine; how is the green neon used effectively here? </li></ul>
  12. 12. Seen in a mirror: <ul><li>Green light on the door from which Judy will emerge as Madeleine </li></ul>
  13. 13. Scottie waits <ul><li>What is he waiting for and what does his expression tell the viewer? </li></ul>
  14. 14. End of the transformation scene <ul><li>What does the lighting add to this? </li></ul>
  15. 15. Union Square <ul><li>The changing traffic signal as Scottie walks through after leaving Midge’s apartment for the last time </li></ul>
  16. 16. Midge’s yellow outfit <ul><li>And yellow apartment; does this signify her ‘neutrality’? </li></ul>
  17. 17. Motifs <ul><li>Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes. </li></ul><ul><li>Power and freedom </li></ul><ul><li>are held up as privileges men had in the past, but presumably do not have in the present. </li></ul><ul><li>While discussing his nostalgia for the San Francisco of the past, Gavin Elster tells Scottie that he misses the days when men had “power [and] freedom.” </li></ul><ul><li>Later, when Scottie is researching the story of Carlotta Valdes, the bookshop owner and historian Pop Leibel tells him that the wealthy man who abandoned Carlotta and kept her child was able to do so with impunity because men in those days had “the freedom and the power” to do such things. </li></ul><ul><li>Scottie yearns for the time when he felt he was the master of his own destiny, before his brush with death on the rooftop. The words freedom and power again are spoken by Scottie as he drags Judy up the stairs of the bell tower. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Tunnels and corridors <ul><li>These are used repeatedly to represent the passage to death. </li></ul><ul><li>The first tunnel image appears when the camera reveals Scottie’s perspective as he clings to the rooftop gutter. The camera shoots straight down the side of the building, creating a tunnel effect. </li></ul><ul><li>While visiting the sequoia forest, Madeleine shares a recurring dream in which she walks “. . . down a long corridor.” Nothing but darkness and death await her at the end of the corridor. She also dreams of a room in which there is a corridor-like open grave. </li></ul><ul><li>When Midge walks away from Scottie for the last time, it is down a long sanatorium corridor that darkens around her. This passage marks a kind of death for Midge as she loses hope of rekindling her romance with Scottie. </li></ul><ul><li>Hitchcock reverses the tunnel-to-death motif in the corridor outside Judy’s apartment. Judy emerges at the end of the hallway after her transformative trip to the beauty salon. Rather than retreat down the corridor, she comes forward as Madeleine in a kind of resurrection scene. </li></ul><ul><li>The next tunnel Judy travels through is in Scottie’s car, when he takes her back to San Juan Batista to retrace the steps of her crime. As they drive toward the mission, tall trees on either side of the road combine with dusky lighting to give the impression of a tunnel. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Bouquets of Flowers <ul><li>In one scene, Scottie follows Madeleine to a flower shop, where she purchases a small nosegay. Its fragile perfection is an ideal representation of Madeleine herself. </li></ul><ul><li>The bouquet appears again several times, most notably when Madeleine stands at the edge of San Francisco Bay, plucking petals from the flowers and tossing them into the water. The destruction of the bouquet mirrors Madeleine’s fixation on self-destruction as she prepares to drown herself in the bay. </li></ul><ul><li>After Madeleine’s death, Hitchcock provides a graphic depiction of Scottie’s nightmare in which a brightly animated bouquet swirls about and then violently disintegrates—a symbolic representation of Madeleine’s death. </li></ul><ul><li>When Scottie spends the day with Judy before her transformation into Madeleine, he buys her a single flower to wear as a corsage, not a replica of Madeleine’s signature bouquet as we might expect. It is a visual reminder that Judy does not possess the ideal perfection of Madeleine, but merely a small seed of it. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Spirals <ul><li>evoke the literal and figurative feelings of vertigo that hound Scottie and Madeleine/Judy. </li></ul><ul><li>The opening credits feature a spiral emerging from a woman’s eye. </li></ul><ul><li>When Scottie looks down from the roof at his fallen colleague, the dead man’s limbs are splayed in the shape of a spiral, indicating that events have spiraled out of control. </li></ul><ul><li>As Scottie observes Madeleine in the museum sitting in front of Carlotta Valdes’s portrait, the camera zooms in on the back of her head to reveal a tightly wound spiraling bun, an exact replica of the style worn by Carlotta. The spiral foreshadows the dizzying chaos into which Madeleine will lead Scottie. </li></ul><ul><li>The most physically jarring spiral is the one formed by the winding stairs of the bell tower as revealed from Scottie’s perspective. As he chases Madeleine up the stairs attempting to halt her apparent suicide, his acrophobia takes over and the camera shoots straight down the stairwell. His vertigo has made him powerless to save the woman he loves. </li></ul><ul><li>The very structure of the film suggests a spiraling circularity: </li></ul><ul><li>Scottie falls in love with Madeleine, loses her to death, then falls in love with Judy/Madeleine again, only to lose her to death as well. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Symbols <ul><li>Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts. </li></ul><ul><li>Sequoia Trees </li></ul><ul><li>Scottie and Madeleine’s visit to the forest of sequoia trees is one of Scottie’s last attempts to return to a healthy worldview. He tells Madeleine that the tree’s scientific name means “always green, ever living,” making explicit the idea that sequoia trees symbolize life in the film. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the trees remind Madeleine of her own mortality. In response to this immense life force, she says, “I don’t like it, knowing I have to die.” The couple looks at the cross-section of a felled tree, which shows how old the tree was when it was chopped down and suggests that the tree would have gone on living forever had it not been for human intervention. </li></ul><ul><li>Madeleine’s response to the trees is complex. She appears simultaneously to be afraid of dying and afraid to embrace life. Ultimately, she runs away from the forest, feeling alienated from life and wanting to die. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Cinematic qualities <ul><li>Vertigo is notable for the &quot;Hitchcock zoom,&quot; an in-camera perspective distortion special effect created by Hitchcock that suggests the dizzying effect that gives the film its title. </li></ul><ul><li>The film's famous score was composed by Bernard Herrmann. In many of the key scenes Hitchcock essentially gave the film over to Herrmann to dramatically convey Scottie's obsessive love for the woman he imagines to be Madeleine. (Recently, the American Film Institute named it as one of the best scores in the history of Cinema0. </li></ul><ul><li>Vertigo was one of several 1950s Paramount films shot in the VistaVision widescreen format, a horizontal 35mm process developed to compete with several similar processes from other studios (such as 20th Century Fox's CinemaScope). </li></ul><ul><li>Vertigo's ending is relatively less explained compared with other Hitchcock films. The reason for Judy Barton's fright that causes her to fall is not explained. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the very idea of a &quot;shadow&quot; is a recurring theme throughout the movie, so her death at the hand of a &quot;shadow&quot; might be symbolic. What this symbolizes is open to interpretation. </li></ul><ul><li>Possibly it is a symbol of the darker side of Scottie's personality appearing. The film can be read in many ways, one reading being it is a battle between the sides of Scottie's personality, and the good side loses (allowing him to manipulate and finally maybe even kill her). </li></ul><ul><li>One likely interpretation, however, is that Judy saw the shadow as either the ghost of the dead wife, or as Elster himself. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Links <ul><li>Camera movement </li></ul><ul><li>Wikipedia </li></ul><ul><li>Hitchcock’s cameo appearances </li></ul><ul><li>Another useful site </li></ul>

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