Posts Tagged James Stewart

Strike a light

And finally on Vertigo, an extended scene which captures many of the film’s key themes – obsession, a hint of necrophilia, love (of sorts), the echoes of the past – and features a beautiful example of one of the defining aspects of the film, in the use of the green neon light.

The next time you have a shade over 2 hours to spare, just sit down and watch it.


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Don’t. Look. Down…

There is no end of discussion about this technique from those who know proper technical things about film and cameras and stuff. I know none of this stuff, but I am pretty confident in asserting this to be some kind of genius.

(nice little plot teaser at the end by the way)

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Great Scottie

More laziness, but frankly the content is so good you won’t begrudge me it. Or you will, but it won’t make any difference: an exercise in futility (something I’m familiar with).

Despite wittering on about Vertigo (or getting someone else to do it for me) a while back, I more recently watched it for the first time in a long time, and I realised I’d actually forgotten much of the plot detail. This was a good thing as I was able to rediscover it, watching it through new eyes to an extent, and making an extra effort to absorb as much of the detail and nuances as possible. Suffice to say I found it quite a profound experience and I’ve been mildly obsessed with it ever since (appropriately enough, seeing as obsession is at the very core of the film).

A sequence I find sofa-grippingly fantastic is where James Stewart’s character, ‘Scottie’, has a nightmare. I’ll not give any context, not for fear of revealing too much about the film but because I can’t be bothered.

Look, I’m barely posting at all, for lord’s sake don’t expect effort.

That said, if you do know the film, the bits of the nightmare where Carlotta Valdes appears scare me more than is explicable.

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Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

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Dizzy, my head is spinning

I used to be obsessed with ‘Vertigo’, but I’m alright now. I still love the film, and admire it deeply, but I no longer need to watch it five times a week at two in the morning, sometimes with the volume down, to soak up every nuance, every image, every location, and every directorial flourish.  I don’t know quite why it struck such a chord, to be honest, but ‘Vertigo’ is a film that inspires devotion, dedication – it’s a film that haunts you, stalks you, until – one day – you find you’re stalking it.

‘Vertigo’ is Hitchcock’s most enigmatic and profound film: it’s confusing and confused, it’s unrealistic and surrealistic, and it has strong, dangerous emotions at its core. Hitchcock took great pleasure in promoting it as a film about ‘a man who wants to sleep with a dead girl’, but ‘Vertigo’ isn’t really about necrophilia, it’s about fear, obsession, love – obsessive love, and the various types of temporary madness and permanent psychosis it can bring.

An uncommon term commonly applied to the film is that it is hypnogogic, i.e. it has the feel of something taking place in the transitional period between dreaming and waking. It’s an accurate assessment of a film which, after you’ve seen it, will nag at the corners of your mind and memory, never quite revealing itself entirely.  Whether you’ve seen it before or not you should watch it today. Just watch it. Films don’t get any better than this.

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Farley Granger

I have just read that Farley Granger recently died at the age of 85.

I’ve only seen one of his films, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (1948), in which Granger (l) stars alongside John Dall (r), and the peerless James Stewart (centre). This is a gripping film, full of tension, intellectualism, and repressed homoeroticism between the three characters pictured here (fairly remarkable stuff for 1948). Granger puts in a wonderful performance of a timid, nerve-wracked man, struggling with his conscience having carried out something he can barely believe he was capable of.

Oddly, the main reason I watched this film in the first place was as a result of an episode of (some of) The League of Gentlemen’s Pyschoville which paid homage to the film, despite being a Hitchcock fan in any case. Odder still, I’ve been intending to write about The League of Gentlemen for a long time but haven’t done yet. On reflection, this isn’t odd, just procrastination.

Speaking of procrastination, watching Granger’s other most notable film appearance, in Hitchcock’s Strangers On A Train, is one of many, many things on my ever growing (and rarely tackled) mental to-do list.

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