Emotionally stressful the situation may have been, it certainly didn’t warrant stepping backwards off a high tower.
For me the story is the main draw of Vertigo, which is not the case for a majority of the films that appear on this sort of list. In terms of form and composition, Vertigo is well above average by the standards of all films but in the bottom third of this list. The story and the way it’s presented, on the other hand, are among the greatest if all time. So story issues are a greater criticism for Vertigo, than say, 2001.
I guess it’s just a visceral thing. Not to say it’s not objective, because I think it is. Vertigo is better than Transformers 3 for instance, after that it’s a bit tougher, but these kinds of things help. It is good to remember they are made up of a large number of people who have a cultivated taste. I’m a bit of a defender of these things. Lists are maligned, but I think people really do love them. They’re fascinating, impossible to ignore for some reason.
But yes, I mean visceral. When I watch Vertigo (which I did recently), it was just a visceral pleasure. There are good reasons to say this is the case, but really it was just so mind blowing. I always feel like watching Vertigo is such a bigger experience than most movies. I just feel like the experience is so much more robust than other movies, even really good ones. I wonder where on the spectrum of realism to fantasy it is, not to say its Bicycle Thieves or Lord of the Rings, but there is some ambiguity to how fanciful it’s trying to me. Like, is it haunted? Your mind scans trying to read it for the language that cinema provides and it’s never easy to situation on anything. Then the ending comes on you like a lightning bolt.
Anyways, that’s how I feel. The local library is showing it on their big screen in October, which they planned before the list thing. I am really looking forward to that. It will be the highest on my list to be seen in the theatre. It is my #3 behind Kane and City Lights.
Vertigo is not an instant movie. that ending shocked me.when i first saw it. the tension was incredible and i thought Novak was simply responding a perceived image of death. Over the years ive read that ending other ways.
Hitchcoxk made heaps of lousy overrated films in my view but Vertigo isnt one of them.
It’s hardly worth bothering trying to arrange 50 or 100 of the “best” films into a hierarchy. The difference between the level of “greatness” of the #1 greatest film of all time and the #39 greatest film of all time is a triviality.
^^exactly. The position/rank is irrelevant to me personally, but i do like seeing these kind of lists nonetheless. it’s always nice to see a movie you really like that isn’t quite as well known, like Close Up, for example, make one of these ‘important’ lists.
Right, it’s interesting to see what people think/are interested in at a given moment, but it’s not like Vertigo suddenly got better and/or Kane got worse. The scaffolding around the canon just gets reworked a great deal in a decade or two (or six).
Matt & Jazz: Totally agree. Almost all of my lists are prefaced by these words:
Order is meaningless.
Why is so hard to admit that ‘the end’ doesn’t make sense at all?
Nuns are scary.
Hitchcock often commented about the sense of fear he had throughout his Jesuit upbringing- perhaps the nun represents something from his childhood?
If the movie takes itself so seriously i like the end to make sense, i fail to see the comedy in this movie like some people think.
Hitch was against people taking films too seriously. One of his famous statements was that it was ridiculous to expect filmmakers to stick to the facts.
Vertigo is one of Hitch’s darker films and there is practically no comedy in it. Similar to The Wrong Man.
I don’t think it’s all that nonsensically outrageous an ending, though. They’re both (maybe more than) a little unhinged, she’s scared because she frankly doesn’t know what he might do, they embrace, the film has already linked eroticism with various types of disorientation, scary nun shadow appears, she sees it/her from the corner of the eye, presumably panics and interprets it as a someone/something rushing toward her, she takes a step or two back . . .
Here’s the only scary nun I respect.
@Alex — "Why is so hard to admit that ‘the end’ doesn’t make sense at all?
Probably because to a lot of people the ending does make sense. It doesn’t to you, it appears. Can you say something about what exactly about “the end” doesn’t make sense?
This doesn’t speak to the “Greatest of all time” discussion but Chris Marker made explicit references to Vertigo in both Sans Soleil and La Jetee. He also wrote a great essay about it which can be read here.
It’s worth a read.
Vertigo is hokey where it isn’t nonsensical, and it is easily Hitchcock’s worst film. Absolute garbage compared to Rear Window, The Lady Vanishes, etc. It’s not even a top 500 film, much less the greatest film of all time. Jesus. Has there been a hypnotist on the loose?
Yes, Tevarian, everyone has been duped but you. Have a pleasant evening basking in that knowledge.
Uh oh, a shitstorm’s a brewin’ :P
It should blow over soon.
Tervarian heading down an infinite regress…
I rest my case!
Vertigo is truly teriffic, but the greatest film of all time is —
Y’all just drank the Kool-Aid. The Hangover is OBVIOUSLY the greatest film ever made. Anyone who doesn’t agree is ignant.
How do people feel about Ronald Bergan’s take:
“if one accepts the fact that the majority of film critics in the world think that Vertigo is the best film ever made, it raises the question of whether film as an art form is perhaps inferior to the other, older, arts. As someone who has made a living of sorts for over 30 years writing about film and teaching film history and film theory, that may seem like sacrilege. But if one were to assess the greatest works in each art in categories like at Crufts, then bring the winner of each category together for the Best in Show, then I’m afraid Vertigo, whatever its many virtues, wouldn’t stand a chance against, say, Don Giovanni, The Divine Comedy, Ulysses, Hamlet or the Ninth Symphony. That may sound like a film critic complaining that The Night Watch wasn’t any good because it didn’t move, or an opera critic attacking ballet dancers for not singing – but is there really a film that can match any of the genuine masterpieces in the other arts?”
“if one accepts the fact that the majority of film critics in the world think that Vertigo is the best film ever made”
OK, this is actually a major mischaracterization of how the poll actually works. What one actually has to “accept” is that more critics (191 of 846, to be exact) included Vertigo on their ballots of ten films than any other film.
“I’m afraid Vertigo, whatever its many virtues, wouldn’t stand a chance against, say, Don Giovanni, The Divine Comedy, Ulysses, Hamlet or the Ninth Symphony.”
^ Empty cultural rhetoric. It’s stated as if this were a self-evident fact, but . . . it isn’t.
“ but is there really a film that can match any of the genuine masterpieces in the other arts?”
Probably, except none of them were made by Hitchcock :-)