If you want to see the best film of all time, you have the chance tonight on HR because Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo – From the Realm of the Dead” is shown there. A style-defining masterpiece that not only leads the list of the best films here!
Alfred Hitchcock’s work is peppered with masterpieces that left a lasting mark on the film landscape. These include classics such as “Psycho”, “The Invisible Third” or “The Birds”. However, none of his directorial work possesses the almost mystical sublimity that still characterizes “Vertigo – From the Realm of the Dead” today.
When the best films of all time are chosen in polls, “Vertigo” regularly not only ranks high but right at the top, i.e. in the first place. Even when we determined the 100 best films of all time a few years ago, this list ended with the Hitchcock classic at number 1!
What “Vertigo” airs today, Tuesday, April 5, at 11:25 p.m. on HR without commercial breaks, one of the things that makes it such an exceptional work in Alfred Hitchcock’s vita is the way in which the British master director faces his own fears and obsessions. The classic from 1958 is such a chilling soul striptease that you can of course also purchase it on Blu-ray, DVD, or as a stream if you miss the TV broadcast or prefer the original English version. Brand new this week is a Hitchcock Collection with a total of 18 (!!!) films – including “Vertigo”:
From the fear of falling: That’s what “Vertigo” is about
The lynchpin of the story is police officer John “Scottie” Ferguson (James Stewart), who suffers from acrophobia, i.e. fear of heights. After a tragic chase across the San Francisco rooftops, Scottie, traumatized and guilt-ridden, decides to resign from the police force.
When Scottie is asked by a former classmate (Tom Helmore) to shadow his wife Madeleine (Kim Novak), he reluctantly accepts the job. He has no idea into which spooky abysses this will lead him.
Like many of today’s classics (just think of “Blade Runner” or “The Thing From Another World”), “Vertigo” received rather moderate reactions from audiences and critics when it was released in cinemas. Today, however, there is probably no other Alfred Hitchcock film that has been the subject of scholarly debates so often and is so often praised as a masterpiece.
When longing for death and love go hand in hand
The reason for this also lies outside of conventional review principles. “Vertigo – From the Realm of the Dead” shines with a formidable, style-defining staging. Hitchcock’s particularly elegiac sense of style in this film, which is characterized by giving looks, movements, and spaces an unusual amount of time for nuanced development, even had a lasting influence on directors as diverse as Brian De Palma and Christian Petzold.
Unlike what you should get to know before (and afterward) from Alfred Hitchcock, in the case of “Vertigo” he levers out the suspense tension mechanism early on and thus does not work towards an external effect (e.g. a twist), but rather opens it up The web of relationships between Scottie and Madeleine is purely introspective.
In “Vertigo – From the Realm of the Dead” lives the joy of suffering
The Psychologization that “Vertigo – From the Realm of the Dead” produces succumbs to a perversion idea that is unique in Hitchcock’s work. Because where the so-called Master of Suspense in earlier works exploited the terror with relish, in this case, he rather reveals the personal connection between the fear of death and indestructible lust.
Sometimes depressingly clear, sometimes dreamily vague, Hitchcock formulates the approach that loving always carries within itself the willingness to die. Scottie, as the story progresses, declares himself capable of entering the realm of the dead to keep his feelings for Madeleine alive. Also sexually.
If you like, then “Vertigo” sees itself as a deeply tragic love story that expresses the impossibility of eternal romance with depressingly horrifying poignancy. Aesthetically, Alfred Hitchcock draws on an unforgettable symbol of the “Green Fog”. The poisonous fog is as graceful as it is devastating in its alluring visage.
Forced to fail, forced to shine
The fact that Alfred Hitchcock wasn’t exactly the most sociable person on the set shouldn’t be a secret anymore. From James Stewart, one of the greatest.