Go Back  DVD Talk Forum > Archives > Archives > Key Thread Archive
Reload this Page >

"VERTIGO": The Flashback - In or Out? (spoilers contained therein)

"VERTIGO": The Flashback - In or Out? (spoilers contained therein)

 
Old 12-19-00, 11:46 AM
  #1  
DVD Talk Special Edition
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: DUD Talk
Posts: 1,841
Per DigIt's request in this thread, here is a special thread addressing this intriguing critical meditation (sorry for being a week late).



As noted in the link above, Judy's flashback (where we see Gavin Elster's crime recreated) was initially not a part of the original film. This sequence was added after preview audiences were befuddled by the plot developments. Judy's flashback was then added to pander to the (inattentive) mainstream viewers; who, apparently, were perplexed--and, consequently--alienated, by the sudden killing-off of one of the film's leading characters, Madeleine (a clear pre-cursor to the jarring twist in Psycho); and the ostensibly-tangential course the plot seems to take in the film's second half. The addition of this segment instantly restores a narrative bridge to the first half; making it crystal clear that our storyteller hasn't scorned his audience. Those too impatient to follow the film all the way to its knockout conclusion, where it is (nearly) all tied together, must have been pleased (though, apparently, not enough to make Vertigo a hit).

It seems that Hitch was never happy with having to compromise his narrative this way; as he later allowed himself to be convinced by his assistant, and long-time collaborator, Joan Harrison, to remove the sequence from initial exhibition prints. After much bandying back-and-forth between the film's principals over the inclusion/exclusion of the sequence, it was finally restored for good by then-Paramount-chief Barney Balaban.

Like myself, many--including several of our members in the thread above--who have viewed Vertigo (as blessedly restored by Robert Harris and James Katz) have similarly expressed disdain for this sequence; and perhaps wish that Universal had featured seamless branching for their otherwise-flawless DVD release.

In this thread, I'm interested in meditating on what the implications of the inclusion/exclusion of this much-debated sequence means to the dramatic and narrative fabric of Vertigo as a whole. Certainly, to me, the sequence seems to interrupt the narrative flow of the picture; and it is not well filmed, to boot. It has always been an uncomfortable moment for me: as Novak looks--with overbite protruding and laundry-marker eyebrows arched--tentatively into the camera, for the red-tinged dissolve into the flashback of her and Elster's dastardly dupe of Scottie; and her pathetic penned-apology to her victimized love. As the duplicity of it all is to be made violently bare at the finale, the flashback sequence seems to be quite irrelevant to the narrative.

However, dramatically, I am not sure which scenario would be the more effective; namely: 1.) as it presently exists, wherein we know Judy's guilt more or less from the get-go; or 2.) with the sequence absent, so that her duplicity is not revealed until the very end.

The implications involved raise a plethora of questions. How would this effect how we feel about Judy? By quickly divulging her guilt to concentrate on the suffering she endures at the hands of Scottie, does this cause us to be more sympathetic to her character; perhaps minimizing her villiany? On the other hand, would not unveiling her duplicity until the finale--perhaps undermining the suffering that went before it, by building a crescendo to what might play like poetic justice--make her less sympathetic? Would we be more affected seeing a guilty woman, or an innocent one, tolerate such abuse? Does the early jettisoning of suspense work against the film's audience participation; or does it simply strip away a perhaps arrestive dramatic device, leaving us to concentrate more intently on the tragic elements at play? Would obscuring the importance of casting a villian (Gavin Elster) in the traditional sense, by not showing the murder, prove a more satisfactory dramatic decision; further distilling the emotional impact of the denouement; or otherwise?

Discuss.

------------------
"The important thing for a star is to have an interesting face. He doesn't have to move it very much. Editing and camerawork can always produce the desired illusion that a performance is being given." --George Sanders.

[This message has been edited by Sykes (edited December 19, 2000).]
Sykes is offline  
Old 12-19-00, 01:25 PM
  #2  
Banned
 
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: Right now, my location is DVDTalk, but then again, you should already know that, shouldn't you?
Posts: 6,364
I'll make my observation succinct:

Hitchcock often said he preferred suspense over shock, citing the example that if an unseen bomb goes off in a room, the audience is shocked, but if the audience sees the timer on the bomb ticking ever downward as the characters in the scene go through their business, the audience can be nearly crippled by the suspense and apprehension such a scene creates.

In the current version, we are given the latter of those two approaches, knowing well in advance of Scottie that he is but a cog in some dark machinations--how will he learn the truth? Do Judy's ultimate loyalties lie with Scottie or Elster? Will Scottie continue to play the role of pawn in Elster's game? It makes for compelling and frustrating viewing--just the kind of suspense for which Hitchcock is famous.

If the "tell-all" scene were excised, we would be left with shock value when Judy's true identity is revealed. There are justifiable reasons for choosing this narrative route (not the least of which is the fact that the "tell-all" scene doesn't provide any information that isn't also covered by the tense conclusion to the film), but as I've mentioned, I think it tends to deflate the suspense factor of knowing that which the main character does not and the growing horror of watching him fall ever further down the proverbial spiral without having access to that knowledge. In the end, I think the current edit is closer to Hitchcock's expressed philosophy of suspense filmmaking...

[This message has been edited by Filmmaker (edited December 19, 2000).]
Filmmaker is offline  
Old 12-19-00, 02:52 PM
  #3  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,468
Ahh, as I waited with baited breath for over a week! The thread emerges. The pics are a nice touch. Warning: Spoilers galore.

I have two reservations about omitting the scene.

First, omitting the scene makes Scottie's twisted and perverted actions all the more off-putting. If we don't know that Judy is Madeline, then Scottie looks like he's manipulating some poor innocent girl - and I think that would instantly take 90% of the audience out of the picture. After experiencing Scottie's obsession for the second half of the film, only to suddenly learn that he is the 'victim', is too much of a turnaround so late in the film. As it stands (with the scene included), Scottie is still a bit twisted, but you're tricked into thinking it's acceptable for him to treat a girl this way, because she's really the villain. "After all," we rationalize, "he's just a victim. She made him into this." Well, does that make it all right? With the scene intact, this becomes a prominent theme to contemplate. (I think that Hitch must have been ultimately satisfied with the audience sympathizing with Scottie's obsessive behavior. It reminds me of sympathizing with Norman as the car stops sinking in Psycho.)

Second, I think the ending is less definitive. As they climb the tower, even if footage of Gavin's crime is intercut, the audience may still miss the point. The scene might play out as if it is Scottie's sick imagination (creating false scenarios that make Madeline's death not his fault) as he eventually forces an innocent girl to her death. Did Judy really do it? Does Scottie belong back in an institution? Without the early warning, it is a lot to digest in a matter of minutes. Coupled with the abrupt and ambiguous U.S. ending, I think the audience would leave scratching their heads.

However, I will admit that the scene is clumsy, so a better application of the same revelation would possibly satisfy us all. Upon her first viewing, a friend of mine was very confused with this scene - too much exposition too abruptly.

Originally posted by Filmmaker:
quote:
In the end, I think the current edit is closer to Hitchcock's expressed philosophy of suspense filmmaking...

Wow, that's a great way to put it. I feel the same way. I'm letting you know that I'm going to steal this phrase verbatim from you and use it myself as if I originally said it.

[This message has been edited by DigIt (edited December 19, 2000).]
DigIt is offline  
Old 12-19-00, 04:16 PM
  #4  
Banned
 
Join Date: Feb 1999
Location: Right now, my location is DVDTalk, but then again, you should already know that, shouldn't you?
Posts: 6,364
Dammit, I knew I should have copyrighted that!
Filmmaker is offline  
Old 12-19-00, 05:36 PM
  #5  
DVD Talk Special Edition
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: DUD Talk
Posts: 1,841
An astute observation, Filmmaker and DigIt. You both make a persuasive argument for the flashback's inclusion, citing one of Hitch's favorite hypothetical (the ticking bomb) scenarios; and myriad other examples.

However, I am not so sure that deferring the big revelation until the finale would necessarily cheapen the dramatic result, as Filmmaker alluded to. True, it would be, as you expressed, more or less of a shock effect, for us to learn Judy's real identity only at this late development.

However, one could make several arguments in rebuttal to this slant: that this would have meshed better with the explosive passions and culminating rhythms of the final scene, as the long-dormant audience memories of her incarnation as Madeleine suddenly resurrect before our very eyes (not simply in in appearance, but in the flesh), only to experience a second, sudden death at the hands of a mysterious accident (while Madeleine remains as alive as ever in Scottie's mind from the word go, she is forgotten by the audience as the events endured by Judy unfold; until she is finally betrayed by the souvenir necklace); that the enigmatic motif would be made more tantalizing, and thereby increased the satisfaction at the denouement; that the film may take on a deeper texture, if applied in retrospect; that it would overturn conventional expectations of psychological character study; etc., etc.

Finally, however, there is one more very strong argument in favor of the flashback’s excision: Has anyone else ever considered the interpretive possibility that the entire second-half of the film takes place entirely in Scottie's mind? Not to say that this is the only possible interpretation (what makes this film great is how multi-layered it is); but there are several tantalizing narrative clues dropped along the way that make this possibilty impossible to ignore:

First, the mysterious disappearance of Midge. Since Scottie is obviously the unrequited love of her life, why is she inexplicably absent following his discharge from the sanitarium; or any moment from then on in the film (excluding the afterthought alternate ending)? Surely, she would have been there to escort him on his reintegration with the outside world; and would have been at his side like a mother hen every waking moment. Yet, evidence of any involvement in Scottie's life after his discharge is noticably absent.

Furthermore, Scottie's introduction into the second half of the film is just as enigmatic as Midge's exit at the conclusion of the first. It is interesting to note how Hitch visually establishes this introduction: first, by employing an omniscient panoramic view of the city of San Francisco (which seems to be so much a part of Scottie and Madeleine) from a fade to black; and then by directly mimicking the subjective POV Hitch employed for Scottie's very first sighting of Madeleine, as she exits the Brocklebank Apartment Buildings. There is is simply too much visual irony present in this "opening shot" for me to believe that Hitch was doing no more than establishing Scottie's liberty from the hospital; particularly with the prominence a "One Way" street sign in this shot.

Moreover, the very order of events as the second half proceeds seems to perhaps argue for an interpretation beyond the literal. The Brocklebank Apartment Buildings; Ernie's Restaurant; the Palace of the Legion of Honor; the Podesta Baldocchi Flower Shop; Scottie's apartment; finally, the Mission San Juan Batista at the film's conclusion--all are revisited; most instances sporting eerie parallels to the earlier events. Could it be that Scottie is not so much physically revisiting Madeleine's old haunts, as he is reliving the experience in his subconscious? That he, by recreating his romantic odyssey with the woman he loved from a slightly alternate vantage point, is somehow struggling to come to terms with his loss of Madeleine? That his final victory over his vertigo is somehow a symbol of his reclaiming his sanity, before he loses it all again at the end?

As alluded to earlier, it is intriguing to note how the concentration of theme in the film's second half (allowing for no parenthetical considerations) mirrors that of its protagonist's mental state. From the point where Madeleine evolved from a client into an obsession (and particularly after Midge mocked his fixation in her painting) nothing else, not even Midge, existed (Midge herself sobs to the catatonic Scottie in her final scene at the mental ward, "You don't even know I'm here.")--the same psychological angle that the film itself takes. That the film ends with Scottie perched on the edge, staring down into the abyss that claimed his love, serves, particularly with this interpretation, as a fitting image of his mental despair.

For this interpretation to withstand close scrutiny, I would argue, the Judy flashback must needs excision; as it is out of step with the psychological angle of the rest of the film. By including a lengthy and vital scene purely from Judy's POV, the subjective analysis of the film from Scottie's viewpoint is rather undermined.

Again, I'm not asserting this possibly-hogwash interpretation as infallibly that of its creator; but the ambiguity exists to allow for speculation. That it does only deepens my fascination with this brilliant, incredible film.



Let's keep them coming, guys!

------------------
"The important thing for a star is to have an interesting face. He doesn't have to move it very much. Editing and camerawork can always produce the desired illusion that a performance is being given." --George Sanders.

[This message has been edited by Sykes (edited December 19, 2000).]
Sykes is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 09:28 AM
  #6  
DVD Talk Special Edition
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: DUD Talk
Posts: 1,841
Is nobody in the mood for a good, serious discussion over a multi-layered classic film?

------------------
"The important thing for a star is to have an interesting face. He doesn't have to move it very much. Editing and camerawork can always produce the desired illusion that a performance is being given." --George Sanders.
Sykes is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 10:15 AM
  #7  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,468
quote:
Originally posted by Sykes:
as the long-dormant audience memories of her incarnation as Madeleine suddenly resurrect before our very eyes (not simply in in appearance, but in the flesh), only to experience a second, sudden death at the hands of a mysterious accident; that the enigmatic motif would be made more tantalizing, and thereby increased the satisfaction at the denouement; that the film may take on a deeper texture, if applied in retrospect; that it would overturn conventional expectations of psychological character study;


Okay, you sold me! If only I could go back and see this again for the first time - with the scene excised. BTW, I'm stealing this sentence, too.

quote:
Finally, however, there is one more very strong argument in favor of the flashback’s excision: Has anyone else ever considered the interpretive possibility that the entire second-half of the film takes place entirely in Scottie's mind?


Interesting, now that I think about it. I don't think it's necessarily suspicious that Midge 'disappears'. However, there is one clue that has teased me for quite some time, and that is the possibility (inevitability) that Scottie jumps from the tower after Judy falls.

I am citing Scotties nightmare, in which the Saul Bass silhouette/cutout of a man falls from the tower. Based on arm position, etc., this cutout is an exact replica of Scotties stance in the film's final shot. Bass probably just traced the outline. It's one of those things you definitely don't pick up in the first few viewings.

But it points to a bigger question. Assuming that it is intentional, did Hitch mean for us to think that this nightmare is a foreshadowing of events to come (i.e., Scottie will jump from the tower)?

Well, Sykes, what you just proposed fits very nicely with this scenario. Scottie jumps from the tower in his nightmare. Then, he revisits all of his old haunts. Then, he has an 'episode' in which he creates another Madeline and tries to rationalize his complicity in her death. This eventually leads him back up the tower. It's already established, via the nightmare, that the tower is representative of Scottie 'falling into the abyss'. Why assume that the final shot is any less figurative (i.e., all in Scottie's mind)?

Perhaps not neat and tidy, but at least I don't have to believe that poor Scottie actually does jump from a tower.

[This message has been edited by DigIt (edited December 20, 2000).]
DigIt is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 10:20 AM
  #8  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Kennesaw, GA
Posts: 1,333
Sykes, your last ruminations have some attractive elements to them. It does explain
one of the most puzzling aspects of the film
for me, the disappearance of Midge. Also the
second half of the film does have a dreamlike
process to it, I could well believe that it's
all in Scottie's mind. I don't believe that
Hitchcock ever intended anyone to take it this way but as you pointed out, this is a
multilayered and complex film, it's lends itself readily to this kind of speculation.

I also agree that the flashback sequence, while not on a par with the rest of the film,
was probably a good idea. Hitchcock always intended to make his films accessible (it's
only a moooovie ) and without the exposition there I'm sure many of the movie
going public would have been intolerably confused. Nonetheless I would personally prefer that the flashback sequence not be used (at least as it appears in the film).
Rand is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 10:28 AM
  #9  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,468
quote:
Originally posted by Rand:
and without the exposition there I'm sure many of the moviegoing public would have been intolerably confused. Nonetheless I would personally prefer that the flashback sequence not be used (at least as it appears in the film).



quote:
Originally posted by Sykes:
By including a lengthy and vital scene purely from Judy's POV, the subjective analysis of the film from Scottie's viewpoint is rather undermined.



Yes, as much as I like the exposition, I'm afraid that you've all convinced me that this scene is terribly executed.


[This message has been edited by DigIt (edited December 20, 2000).]
DigIt is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 10:37 AM
  #10  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Kennesaw, GA
Posts: 1,333
If I might be allowed a diversion from the
original topic I'd like to solicit opinions
on another aspect of the film that bothers
me, whatever happened to Midge? Sykes scenario of the second have of the film being
an invention of the "disturbed" Scotties mind
is one possibility.

I think that her character would have been
counter productive to the second half of the
film. I don't think that Hitchcock wants us
to be too sympathetic to Scottie here. Midge would have had a warming and normalizing effect, if not on the character at lease in
how we perceived the character of Scottie.
But what bothers me is that there's no explanation of why we don't see Midge after
Scottie leaves the hospital when we certainly
would have expected to. It could have been
something as simple as "I'm going to Europe
for a month" or something similar. Instead she's simply not there, it's seems to be too
abrupt and obvious a disappearance for a careful storyteller to commit. Could it be
an edit or did Hitchcock simply overlook the
problem of her unexplained disappearance?
Rand is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 10:53 AM
  #11  
DVD Talk Special Edition
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: DUD Talk
Posts: 1,841
quote:
Okay, you sold me! If only I could go back and see this again for the first time - with the scene excised. BTW, I'm stealing this sentence, too.


That will be case number two.

quote:
Interesting, now that I think about it. I don't think it's necessarily suspicious that Midge 'disappears'. However, there is one clue that has teased me for quite some time, and that is the possibility (inevitability) that Scottie jumps from the tower after Judy falls... Scottie jumps from the tower in his nightmare. Then, he revisits all of his old haunts (physically or subconsciously - either way). Then, he has an 'episode' in which he creates another Madeline and tries to rationalize his complicity in her death. This eventually leads him back up the tower (sans vertigo) to throw himself off.


Why do you not think it "suspicious" that Midge is completely absent from the film's second half? Just asking.

The suicide theory is indeed a very plausible one (some film analysts have thought so, too), and a possibilty that is given merit by the recurrent motif of foreshadowed events. As you say, Scottie's surreally-illustrated fall from the tower is sort of the "climax" of his nightmare; and Hitch's blatantly teasing ending calls to mind this motif of recurrence. One certainly has a hard time imagining anything else following this second tragedy; except to possibly wind up in a straightjacket. Would he not want to follow Madeleine/Judy into death as he did in life?

There is yet another tantalizing enigma that merits discussion, and that is Judy's death. Does the final tragedy and its implications hinge on a simple accident; or, again, is there is more to this development than meets the eye?

Could it be that another possible clue has been dropped, in that Judy's "messenger of death" is a nun? There is an otherwise inconspicuous hint dropped immediately prior to Madeleine's first "death", where she, supposedly recounting a memory of Carlotta's, intimates Carlotta's fear of one "Sister Therese". Does this confirm that her alleged inhabitation by Carlotta's departed spirit is more than a mere sham; that Madeleine/Judy may after all have been a ghost? How is it that Madeleine's disappearance from the McKittrick Hotel earlier in the movie is never explained?

I haven't had this stimulating of a discussion in months!

------------------
"The important thing for a star is to have an interesting face. He doesn't have to move it very much. Editing and camerawork can always produce the desired illusion that a performance is being given." --George Sanders.
Sykes is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 11:06 AM
  #12  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Waterford, MI
Posts: 1,122
Sykes, sorry I was having cable modem problems at home or I would've contributed earlier to this very interesting discussion

I rather liked your proposition about the second half taking place inside Scottie's head, and you're right I had not considered that previously; nor had I even thought it strange that Midge wasn't there, but it did strike a resonant chord when you said that. Considering her prevalence in Scottie's life before that, her absence is all the more noticeable in the second half. However, it might not necessarily be an indication that what we are witnessing is taking place in Scottie's head; rather, it occurs to me it might symbolize the true depth of Scottie's obsession with Madeleine that he doesn't notice anyone else in his life. Midge isn't there because to Scotty there is only Madeleine haunting him. He tortures and torments himself by visiting her old haunts until he finds her in the flesh reborn again.

For a moment, I considered the idea you proposed, but I think I like this one better since the whole movie is about obsession. Scottie's obsession means more if we believe that Judy is real and that he does force this girl to her death. I think the act is made more horrific without the exposition scene. I don't think the point of the second half is to show Scotty as "the wronged man"...by the time he is accusing madeleine and forcing her up those steps, I think the revelation makes a much greater impact with all the momentum that is built up during the climb to the top. And I think such momentum is important in a story whose main focus is obsession...not a whodunit.

I'm still all for the exclusion of the scene although I understand the viewpoints of everyone else contributing to this thread

Michael

------------------
Look what you've done to me!
fiver is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 11:17 AM
  #13  
DVD Talk Special Edition
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: DUD Talk
Posts: 1,841
quote:
Hitchcock always intended to make his films accessible (it's
only a moooovie ) and without the exposition there I'm sure many of the movie
going public would have been intolerably confused.



Great to see you in attendance, Rand!

Certainly the thing that is so attractive about Hitchcock (possibly the best director ever) was his ability to provide a superficially "mainstream" structure to a film, while underscoring it with layers of complex, psychological reflections; without having to stoop to obvious, self-important rejection of accessible narrative and characters (ala Kubrick, Malick, etc.).

However, despite the measures taken to try to explain things to the audience, Vertigo still failed at the box-office; so perhaps the scene's inclusion is moot. Again, seamless branching on the Universal DVD is sorely missed, here.

quote:
If I might be allowed a diversion from the
original topic I'd like to solicit opinions
on another aspect of the film that bothers
me, whatever happened to Midge?... I think that her character would have been
counter productive to the second half of the
film. I don't think that Hitchcock wants us
to be too sympathetic to Scottie here. Midge would have had a warming and normalizing effect, if not on the character at lease in
how we perceived the character of Scottie.
But what bothers me is that there's no explanation of why we don't see Midge after
Scottie leaves the hospital when we certainly
would have expected to... Could it be
an edit or did Hitchcock simply overlook the
problem of her unexplained disappearance?



Certainly you may divert from the topic cited above. The flashback sequence was simply a springboard chosen to stimulate further discussion of the film.

As you opined, I do not think that Hitch could have possibly been this sloppy about dismissing such a prominent player in the drama. Even Elster, the only other of the four characters central to Vertigo, is eventually mentioned in the second half of the film.

------------------
"The important thing for a star is to have an interesting face. He doesn't have to move it very much. Editing and camerawork can always produce the desired illusion that a performance is being given." --George Sanders.
Sykes is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 11:29 AM
  #14  
DVD Talk Special Edition
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: DUD Talk
Posts: 1,841
quote:
For a moment, I considered the idea you proposed, but I think I like this one better since the whole movie is about obsession. Scottie's obsession means more if we believe that Judy is real and that he does force this girl to her death.


Thanks for dropping by, fiver!

I am personally more attuned to this interpretation myself. But the fact that a more metaphysical interpretation can co-exist is exciting to contemplate; and a tribute to the film's psychological profundity.



------------------
"The important thing for a star is to have an interesting face. He doesn't have to move it very much. Editing and camerawork can always produce the desired illusion that a performance is being given." --George Sanders.

[This message has been edited by Sykes (edited December 20, 2000).]
Sykes is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 11:50 AM
  #15  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,468
quote:
Originally posted by Sykes:
Why do you not think it "suspicious" that Midge is completely absent from the film's second half?



Perhaps 'suspicious' is a poor choice of words, but I think it possible that she is omitted for reasons of tone rather than plot. In the beginning, she is played for comic relief and to offer some exposition. Then she becomes a somewhat sympathetic (or just pathetic) character trying to force her way into Scottie's life.

Her appearance in the second half would mean two things. First, it would distract us from the obsession at hand. Scottie would no doubt have to banter with her, taking him out of his state of mind, having to explain his action rather than proceeding in a dream-like state. We'd also be reminded of Midge's obsession with Scottie, and as I've asserted in my first post, this makes Scottie less sympathetic of a character, which IMHO, makes the film less effective on at least one level.

Second, if she appears sporadically in the second half, upon the ending of the film, she's still on our mind, and we're left wondering, "Hey, what happened to Midge?"

By taking her out at the halfway point with the excuse that Scottie doesn't even acknowledge her presence, we can at least find some closure for her. She may exist, but not to Scottie anymore, and therefore not to the audience, as she's progressively forced out of the mix. (At least, we can image that she gives up, even temporarily, to let Scottie sort things out by himself.) Note how she's progressively alienated as the film progresses.

Therefore, I don't see her disappearance as particularly suspect - perhaps just the easiest way to do away with the character. Again, I'm not saying that any interpretation is wrong, I'm just pointing out ways to validate the differing opinions.

[This message has been edited by DigIt (edited December 20, 2000).]
DigIt is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 12:13 PM
  #16  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Waterford, MI
Posts: 1,122
Sykes, there's no denying that a film as complex as Vertigo warrants discussion from many points of view Oddly enough, I noticed that you thought the second half of the film played out like a dream; well I always thought the first half had that surreal dream-like quality while the second half felt grounded in Scottie's painful reality. And I feel that's the way it has to be in order to make the film elements work without sounding a bit silly to the skeptic such as myself In a Hitchcock film, the idea of someone long dead coming back to possess the living does sound a bit out of place to me at least. However, the score along with Novak's sudden shifts in personality help to perpetuate this idea throughout the first half. Judy, however, never wavers in who she is..even when she's madeleine, you can still tell she's Judy. Perhaps that's why I never considered the idea that Scotty was imagining this...since the imagination is much more fanciful and prone to exageration which I don't think we really experience during the second half of the film.

What do you all think and could you help me to see why you view the 2nd half of the film in a dream sequence soft of way?

Michael

------------------
Look what you've done to me!
fiver is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 12:23 PM
  #17  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Kennesaw, GA
Posts: 1,333
quote:
Originally posted by fiver:
Sykes, there's no denying that a film as complex as Vertigo warrants discussion from many points of view Oddly enough, I noticed that you thought the second half of the film played out like a dream; well I always thought the first half had that surreal dream-like quality while the second half felt grounded in Scottie's painful reality. And I feel that's the way it has to be in order to make the film elements work without sounding a bit silly to the skeptic such as myself In a Hitchcock film, the idea of someone long dead coming back to possess the living does sound a bit out of place to me at least. However, the score along with Novak's sudden shifts in personality help to perpetuate this idea throughout the first half. Judy, however, never wavers in who she is..even when she's madeleine, you can still tell she's Judy. Perhaps that's why I never considered the idea that Scotty was imagining this...since the imagination is much more fanciful and prone to exageration which I don't think we really experience during the second half of the film.

What do you all think and could you help me to see why you view the 2nd half of the film in a dream sequence soft of way?

Michael



I don't wish to speak for Sykes (he does that
quite well for himself) but I think what he
was saying, and we've been discussing, isn't
that the second half of the film is a dream
sequence but that it's the imaginings of a
disturbed mind. In that case it wouldn't necessarily appear to be surreal in character.
Rand is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 12:40 PM
  #18  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Waterford, MI
Posts: 1,122
Rand,
In my entirely personal opinion, I think Hithcock was much too direct a filmmaker to leave a point like that entirely up to the user relying on subtlety and symbolism to carry his message; on the same note, I think he was too much of a perfectionist to leave a scene as utterly flawed and clumbsy as the judy exposition scene in one of his films.

And, I believe some of the above posts do say that the events in question are happening in Scottie's mind...if you're saying that he is merely imagining what he believes to be the truth...that judy was a part of elster's plan to kill his wife, we're given pretty direct evidence and even a final confirmation that this is indeed what happened...so I do not believe you can say that he is merely making wild deductions not based in fact. I could more easily accept that he is imagining the entire sequence of events from within the confines of the hospital (which is what I originally gathered from Sykes' post and, therefore, I would expect a surreal quality to the second half of the film which we just don't get).

Thanx for the lively discussion all
Michael

------------------
Look what you've done to me!
fiver is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 12:45 PM
  #19  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Chicago
Posts: 1,468
quote:
Originally posted by fiver:
I could more easily accept that he is imagining the entire sequence of events from within the confines of the hospital (which is what I originally gathered from Sykes' post and, therefore, I would expect a surreal quality to the second half of the film which we just don't get).



But if "reality" is dream-like, wouldn't it stand to reason that "dreams" would be realistic?


DigIt is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 12:50 PM
  #20  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Kennesaw, GA
Posts: 1,333
Actually I agree with you, I don't think the
second half of the film takes place in Scotties mind. I'm not sure that Sykes believes this either but was just offering it
up as a possible explanation for discussion.

Just to explicate my previous reply a little
more ... If the happenings in the second half
of the film are imagined while he's in the
hospital they are not dreams per se, and therefore wouldn't necessarily have the surreal quality that we expect from dreams.
Hallucinations can seem inextricable from
reality as they occur.
Rand is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 02:57 PM
  #21  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 12,822
Since no one has answered Sykes question and seeing as it bothers me everytime I watch the movie. Does this confirm that her alleged inhabitation by Carlotta's departed spirit is more than a mere sham; that Madeleine/Judy may after all have been a ghost? How is it that Madeleine's disappearance from the McKittrick Hotel earlier in the movie is never explained? quoted directly from Sykes earlier statement


[This message has been edited by Timber (edited December 20, 2000).]
Timber is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 03:03 PM
  #22  
DVD Talk Special Edition
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: DUD Talk
Posts: 1,841
Originally posted by DigIt
quote:
By taking her out at the halfway point with the excuse that Scottie doesn't even acknowledge her presence, we can at least find some closure for her. She may exist, but not to Scottie anymore, and therefore not to the audience, as she's progressively forced out of the mix... Therefore, I don't see her disappearance as particularly suspect - perhaps just the easiest way to do away with the character.


Certainly, if one adheres to the literal interpretation of events, it is difficult to imagine how the Midge character could have figured into the second half's events without proving a distraction to the central drama. Perhaps your argument about closure is moot, as I had not found myself noticing this "loose end" until well after my first viewing of the film had completed. Perhaps it is telling that how Scottie is introduced into the second half leaves undetermined whatever amount of time may have passed since his discharge.

Originally posted by Rand
quote:
I think what he was saying, and we've been discussing, isn't that the second half of the film is a dream sequence but that it's the imaginings of a disturbed mind.


Yeah, what he said.

Originally posted by fiver
quote:
I could more easily accept that he is imagining the entire sequence of events from within the confines of the hospital (which is what I originally gathered from Sykes' post[).]


Exactilioso, again. Indeed, Scottie may have been playing out the entire second half's events in his mind while Midge was talking to him in his cell. That would make Midge's forlorn exit down the desolate sanitarium corridor the real termination of the drama--perhaps a fitting conclusion to this ultimately pessimistic film.

Originally posted by Rand:
quote:
I don't think the second half of the film takes place in Scotties mind. I'm not sure that Sykes believes this either but was just offering it up as a possible explanation for discussion.


Another winner! As I noted above, this alternate perspective on the plot of Vertigo may not necessarily contradict the literal interpretation of the plot; but may, in fact, serve to further understand the psychological workings involved.

I had another thought, though, about the flashback scene: suppose, instead of employing this sequence as simple broad exposition, Hitch had instead chosen to tease the audience by dropping a baffling hint; such as showing us the grey suit Madeleine wore hanging in Judy's closet (much the same way Scottie was to discover her deception with the Carlotta necklace)? Certainly the audience may have been more perplexed than ever; but would this not at least provoke a keener sensitivity in the viewers' minds towards the baroque plot developments?

------------------
"The important thing for a star is to have an interesting face. He doesn't have to move it very much. Editing and camerawork can always produce the desired illusion that a performance is being given." --George Sanders.
Sykes is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 03:07 PM
  #23  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Waterford, MI
Posts: 1,122
I think the question of Madeleine's inhabitation by Carlotta begs the question if we were really given complete and accurate information about this Madeleine/Judy...I do not think it is possible to truly extricate what parts of Judy's behavior as Madeleine were real and which ones were for the sake of Elster's plot...at least I find it difficult to do so. The only indication of supernatural affairs is her disappearance from the hotel, and we really don't know for certain if there was indeed some other way for her to get out of that hotel. I would assume her entrance and escape were well planned out before hand all to lend credence to the Carlotta premise that Elster wished to place in Scottie's mind. So I reject the idea that there were any supernatural elements actually present in the story. I think any such elements would be detrimental to the story...but as a tool by which scotty's mind is possessed by this woman, it is entirely effective.

Michael

------------------
Look what you've done to me!
fiver is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 03:46 PM
  #24  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Kennesaw, GA
Posts: 1,333
quote:
Originally posted by fiver:
I think the question of Madeleine's inhabitation by Carlotta begs the question if we were really given complete and accurate information about this Madeleine/Judy...I do not think it is possible to truly extricate what parts of Judy's behavior as Madeleine were real and which ones were for the sake of Elster's plot...at least I find it difficult to do so. The only indication of supernatural affairs is her disappearance from the hotel, and we really don't know for certain if there was indeed some other way for her to get out of that hotel. I would assume her entrance and escape were well planned out before hand all to lend credence to the Carlotta premise that Elster wished to place in Scottie's mind. So I reject the idea that there were any supernatural elements actually present in the story. I think any such elements would be detrimental to the story...but as a tool by which scotty's mind is possessed by this woman, it is entirely effective.

Michael



This is something Hitchcock would do from time to time in his films, tease us with a hint of the supernatural and then pull it back. His aberrant film "The Birds" I'd classify as pseudo science fiction bordering
on outright fantasy.
Rand is offline  
Old 12-20-00, 04:08 PM
  #25  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: Waterford, MI
Posts: 1,122
Not saying he wouldn't use fantasy, I just can't see any evidence of a true fantasy in Vertigo. And the birds is a clear "what-if" from the get-go, whereas vertigo is based firmly on the propensity of man to singlemindedly focus on one idea to the exclusion and eventual destruction of everything around him...I think actualizing the possession idea would take away from this theme. The reason we feel so badly for scotty at the end is that he let his obsession run away with him so much that he lost his chance to be happy with Judy, human and her own person. If she acts as she does because she is possessed, then Scotty never had a chance with her in the first place and his loss means little to the audience.

Michael

------------------
Look what you've done to me!
fiver is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.