FWSvertigopaper - Corrigan Graham Corrigan 9/23/07 ENGL 108...

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Corrigan Graham Corrigan 9/23/07 ENGL 108 Vertigo Scene Analysis Throughout Vertigo , Hitchcock’s personal exploration into the deepest of psychological darkness, we are told to rely on facial reactions in moments void of dialogue. This technique alone is not necessarily a novel one, but in Vertigo , we are continually forced to meet characters face to face in these moments of silence, often uncomfortably so. However, at some points in the film, Hitchcock uses these stark close- ups—or sometimes lack thereof—to amplify a scene’s mystery and allure. Such is the case in Scottie’s “chase” scene, where we must gauge our reactions solely on reaction and establishing shots, with little to no dialogue throughout a scene where the plodding pace can suddenly set up unimaginable suspense. The camera brazenly focuses on Scottie’s face, while never capturing Madeleine’s. Instead, we focus on her surroundings. One of Hitchcock’s most admirable traits is his ability to make his mise-en-scène significant in every shot. His subtle use of vertical lines to make buildings and staircases look taller, for instance, does not immediately distract our attention, but is there all the same and helps look towards a deeper meaning in the scene. The combination of these two tools—cinematography and a lack of dialogue—tells us more about Scottie’s character in his car than any amount of speech could. After our first encounter with Madeleine at Ernie’s, we are transported to the Ellster estate with a series of establishing shots instituting Scottie as our voyeur and spy. From his car, Scottie sees Madeleine exit the house and enter her car—without the audience or himself seeing her face. Madeleine is a character who is relatively new to 1
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Corrigan Vertigo’s plot, and Hitchcock makes a point to keep it that way. She remains mute and partially obscured throughout the scene. After a series of shot-reverse-shots of Scottie watching Madeleine’s car, the camera takes the point of view of Scottie as he pulls out after her. From there, we are transported inside the car and inside Scottie’s head for the majority of his spying. Until Madeleine arrives at another of her destinations, our world is limited to either the back of her car, or Scottie’s puzzled reactions. Again, this alone may not be anything out of the ordinary, but Hitchcock makes us an active viewer by not
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FWSvertigopaper - Corrigan Graham Corrigan 9/23/07 ENGL 108...

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