Vertigo: seeing is not believing

I watched Vertigo again recently – perhaps for the third or fourth time. It reminded me of being puzzled by the film when I first saw it years ago – it is, on the surface, a trashy movie adapted from a trashy French thriller called ‘Between Two Deaths’ – a barely credible shaggy dog story that is saturated with cod psychology about agoraphobia. Nowadays James Stewart’s Scotty would probably have been diagnosed with PTSD given his unfortunate association with violent deaths. I probably first watched a mediocre, dilapidated print that would have inevitably blurred the astonishing visual genius of Hitchcock’s work which is exhibited in this film more than any other in his very uneven catalogue – and the work of the picture and sound restorers has to be recognized as truly remarkable. But it is paradoxical. The impact of the clean up is to expose Hitchcock’s remarkably stylised and anti naturalist design that makes full use of resplendent colour symbolism and recurrent visual leitmotifs that are deepened and echoed with thrilling brilliance in Bernard Hermann’s score. Hermann, who wrote the score of ‘Citizen Kane’, perfectly understood I suspect the intention of the film, which I believe is to dramatize […]
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It’s regrettable that the UK Supreme Court cannot go further. After all, its distinguished members concluded: One of the majority Justices, Lord Kerr, described the case as “shocking” adding that the “overwhelming preponderance of currently available evidence” showed: “wholly innocent men were mercilessly murdered and the failure of the authorities of this state to conduct an effective inquiry into their deaths” (para 204). Another, Lord Neuberger, commented “the evidence which first came to light in late 1969 and early 1970 plainly suggested that the Killings were unlawful” (para 75) and “a war crime may have been committed” (para 136). Lord Kerr’s judgment concluded by expressing regret at the majority’s decision. He added (para 285): “the law has proved itself unable to respond positively to the demand that there be redress for the historical wrong that the appellants so passionately believe has been perpetrated on them and their relatives. That may reflect a deficiency in our system of law. It certainly does not represent any discredit on the honourable crusade that the appellants have pursued.”
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