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 Party » 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 voted for in polls, “Vertigo” regularly not only comes out on top, but right at the top, i.e. in 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 makes «Vertigo — Aus dem Reich der Toten», which will be broadcast on HR today, Tuesday, April 5, at 11:25 p.m. without commercial breaks , among other things, such an exceptional work in the life of Alfred Hitchcock, is the kind and manner in which the master British director faces his own fears and obsessions. The classic from 1958 is such a chilling soul striptease that you can of course also purchase on Blu-ray, DVD or as a stream if you miss the TV broadcast or you prefer the original English version. Also brand new this week is a Hitchcock Collection with a total of 18 (!!!) films – including “Vertigo”:
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From the fear of falling: That’s what «Vertigo» is about
The lynchpin of the story is policeman 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.
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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 afterwards) 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 has exhausted the horror in earlier works with relish, in this case he rather reveals the personally shaped connection between the fear of death and indestructible lust.
Sometimes depressingly clear, sometimes somnambulously 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.
The FILMSTARTS Top 100 — 1st place: «Vertigo»