Category: Vertigo

Critical Reception

Here is the final essay on Vertigo (1958) Hitchcock.

‘With reference to critical writing and reviews you have considered as part of your study, discuss how your ideas on your chosen film have developed.’

We know that something very similar to this is going to crop up in the exam and it’s a really good bet to go for rather than the film specific essay. However you do need to reference critical writing and reviews, so it is essential you have quotes and are able to credit the author. You should certainly use the Robin Woods from Hitchcock Film Revisited (1965) and quote or paraphrase some of his ideas about the film, which are below. You should also use some of the quotes / ideas from the range of reviews we read in class.

Task

Read one review / essay in this folder and complete a slide of notes on what you have read in the slideshow below.

Hitchcock’s Film revisited by Robin Wood

These quotes from his essay on Vertigo would be useful in addition to the reviews you have looked at.

Reflect on these quotes and choose some which you think resonate most closely with your reading of the film.

Task:

Create your own slide show of quotes (5-8), to use in an essay on critical approaches or indeed any essay on Vertigo. You should include what arguments you are going to make and the examples you would use to explain the quote and your other ideas that spring from it.

Vertigo Thematic Essays

Here are the slide shows for the thematic essays on Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

‘Vertigo is a challenging exploration of the male fantasy.’ How far do you agree with this view?

 How far do you agree that Vertigo is, to a significant extent, a film about control?

Identify and discuss three elements of Vertigo which, in your view, contribute to the sense of strangeness the film conveys.

Explore the importance of narrative structure in the development of key themes and ideas in Vertigo

In Vertigo death is represented as being simultaneously attractive and frightening. How is this evident in the cinematic style of Vertigo?

‘The representation of women in Vertigo demonstrates how far this is a film by a man for men.’ How far do you agree?

Explore some of the ways in which Hitchcock attempts to manage the audience response to Scottie as the narrative of Vertigo unfolds.

Vertigo – Areas for close study

These are the areas of close study that we are going to explore in Vertigo:

  1. Symbols & Motifs
    1. ‘There is an artificial cinematic quality about Vertigo which makes us question constantly what kind of film we are watching.’ How far can it be argued that this is a strength of Vertigo?
  2. Representation of Women
    1. ‘The representation of women in Vertigo demonstrates how far this is a film by a man for men.’ How far do you agree?
  3. Representation of Scottie.
    1. Explore some of the ways in which Hitchcock attempts to manage the audience response to Scottie as the narrative of Vertigo unfolds.
  4. Narrative
    1. Explore the importance of narrative structure in the development of key themes and ideas in Vertigo.
  5. Representation of Men / Themes / Power & Control
    1. How far do you agree that Vertigo is, to a significant extent, a film about control?
  6. Themes / Fantasy vs Reality / Representation of Men
    1. ‘Vertigo is a challenging exploration of male fantasy.’ How far do you agree with this view?
  7. Themes / Symbols
    1. Identify and discuss two elements of Vertigo which, in your view, contribute to the sense of strangeness the film conveys.
  8. Themes/ Genre – Death as attractive & frightening.
    1. ‘In Vertigo, death is represented as being simultaneously attractive and frightening.’ How is this evident in the cinematic style of Vertigo?

Please prepare a short presentation (using screenshots from the film) to explore the area of study you have been allocated. You will be making these presentations on Thursday and then redrafting based on feedback during your last lesson this week.

Here are a few examples of other questions that have come up in the past just for reference…

  1. Genre / Narrative
    1. Vertigo is a poorly made thriller with a ridiculous, unbelievable plot.’ How far do you agree with this view?
  2. Visual Motifs
    1. Discuss the significance of the recurring image of the spiral in Vertigo.
  3. Visual Motifs / Symbols
    1. ‘Above all else Vertigo is a celebration of visual storytelling.’ Discuss this statement with detailed reference to particular sequences from the film.
  4. Critical Reception / Response
    1. ‘For the first time, in 2012, Vertigo, made in 1958, was voted the ‘greatest film ever made’ by Sight and Sound magazine.’ Why should the film be so highly regarded today?
  5. Representation of Women
    1. Discuss the important themes and ideas Hitchcock explores in Vertigo through the use of the Madeleine/Judy character?

Vertigo: Single Film Critical Study

So here we go, last unit.

The final question in the exam will ask you to write ONE final essay to discuss just ONE film. We, as you know, are studying Vertigo. (30 marks available)

You will have 3 questions to choose from.

  1. Critical Approach (for this we will be studying auteur)
  2. Critical Response (this is about reviews, awards, response over time etc)
  3. Vertigo Specific (this could be literally anything about Vertigo)

So over the next few weeks we will be looking at these areas in particular.

Starting with… Auteur.

Hitchcock as Auteur 1

Auteur is the film version of the word author and refers to the suggestion that it is the director of the film who is the creative and artistic force behind the movie.

Auteur theory also suggests that auteurs have a signature style to their films that is evident across the body of their work (auteurs must have a canon of work).

A film student’s task is to consider where to look for those distinctive elements across a range of their films.

Hitchcock was known as the master of suspense & he said that ‘there is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it’

Task 1

Here is a document with some ideas for you to consider in relation to auteur.

Do some research into Hitchcock and find what critics and academics have said about his signature style. In pairs use the above template to create a poster detailing the key similarities in his films. You will be presenting your findings to the rest of the group.

We will be using this list and applying it to Vertigo & the other film(s) you have watched throughout this week.

HERE are some notes on Hitchcock’s style from our presentation from Mr Lane

Hitchcock as Auteur

Please complete the following essay (assigned in Classroom).

‘Discuss how far one or more critical approaches (auteur) have contributed to an increased understanding and appreciation of Vertigo (1958) Hitchcock.’

Here is the work we did on Rear Window:

Essay Planning Task:

Please complete a similar analysis for Vertigo as an example of Hitchcock’s directorial style.

Initially work on your own.

You will have an opportunity to see where the gaps in your knowledge are and seek help for the rest of the group.