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The picture is so engrossing, so artful and so goddamn perfect in every way, you can only call Vertigo a marvel, a miracle, a masterpiece.

There are movies you love. There are movies you treasure. And then there are movies you obsess about. Movies like Vertigo. I must have watched Alfred Hitchock’s brilliant picture about 30 or 40 times by now and still I can't get enough of the film.

The theme of obsession is palpable from the first second as the camera zooms in on a woman's red lips, pale face and black iris. The spiral sequence that ensues, accompanied by Bernard Herrmann's haunting music, is as intriguing as any movie in the history of the artform.

It doesn’t stop there. Hitchcock's talents as a director come the fullest to the fore in a long sequence where James Stewart shadows Kim Novak. Using the camera as a partner-in-crime, the filmmaker drags us near-dialogue-free into the story. A slow, menacing pace, meticulous camera settings, economical and exciting exposition: Hitchcock cannot be faulted throughout.

But what truly makes Vertigo perhaps the best movie ever made are the new insights you gain with each new viewing. After 30 or 40 views, I still haven't been able to fully fathom Vertigo. But one conclusion I can definitely draw: Vertigo is Hitchock’s most addictive, hypnotic and intriguing gift to the art of moviemaking.

release: 1958

director: Alfred Hitchcock

starring: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes, Tom Helmore


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