Arlecchino Cinema > 14:30


Alfred Hitchcock
Introduced by

Céline Ruivo (Cinémathèque française) and Jean Douchet


Thursday 02/07/2015


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

“I really identified with the story because to me it was saying: Please, see who I am. Fall in love with me, not a fantasy”

Kim Novak

“It’s an odd thing, but everyone who disappears is said to be seen in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city and possess all the attractions of the next world”

Lord Wotton in The Picture of Dorian Gray

The means, tricks and central images of Vertigo are like verses of a poem, visible, identifiable, yet retaining their mystery, never obvious. Visual motifs reappear hypnotically: flowers, trees, the necklace, the ocean, the church, and the passages and stairways which are like labyrinths of self-deception and whose spirals are like invitations to hell. The very beginning leads to an entirely unreal emphasis: Scottie remains hanging from the roof-top gutter, and it is impossible to imagine that he could survive in the ‘real world’. His borrowed time takes him to situations that are no less difficult to master. Typically for Hitchcock, the most famous single image of the movie is a feat of both technical virtuosity and profound psychological insight. He told that he conceived it after fifteen years of thinking about a vision he had had in a moment of being terribly drunk and having the sensation that everything was going far away. It occurs at the church where Madeleine runs upstairs. Scottie cannot follow due to his acrophobia and when he looks down the stairwell everything escapes his eyes into a strange sawing pattern. Hitchcock realized that the viewpoint had to be fixed while the perspective changed lengthwise so he ended up using a simultaneous zoom and a dolly in opposite directions with a camera set-up where a miniature staircase was photographed sideways.

Peter von Bagh

Extract from Peter von Bagh’s posthumous unpublished manuscript for a book on Alfred Hitchcock covering all his films with an emphasis on a single shot from each. Peter von Bagh was a champion of Alfred Hitchcock since the 1950s. His master’s thesis for the Department of Aesthetics and Literature at the University of Helsinki in 1968 was Cinematic Means and Their Use: Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’. In 1968 von Bagh interviewed Hitchcock, who was visiting Helsinki in preparation for his projected spy thriller The Short Night. The interview was published on a full page of the newspaper “Helsingin Sanomat” with the title Logic is Dull. As we know initially Vertigo was not generally highly regarded, but since the 1983 re-release its reputation has steadily grown until it was voted as the best film of all time in the 2012 “Sight & Sound” poll.

Antti Alanen


Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal romanzo D’entre les morts di Pierre Boileau e Thomas Narcejac. Scen.: Alec Coppel, Samuel A.Taylor. F.: Robert Burks. M.: George Tomasini. Scgf.: Henry Bumstead, Hal Pereira. Mus.: Bernard Herrmann. Int.: James Stewart (John ‘Scottie’), Kim Novak (Madeleine/Judy), Barbara Bel Geddes (Marjorie ‘Midge’), Tom Helmore (Gavin), Henry Jones (coroner), Raymond Bailey (dottore), Ellen Corby (proprietaria dell’hotel), Konstantin Shayne (Pop), Lee Patrick (automobilista), Paul Bryar (Hansen). Prod.: Alfred Hitchcock per Alfred Hitchcock Productions, Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp. · 35mm. Col.