Vertigo – defined as the literal spiraling, experienced within the height of such a troubling sensation, debilitating one from relating clearly with the execution of tasks more closely related to the sensations of reality. An apt physiological dossier for a truly psychological circumstance. At the very least, a truly psychological circumstance viewed more acutely by Hitchcock who considered the physical realism of the condition to be of a secondary significance to that of its more surrealistic qualities affecting one’s perception, especially for its potential to be artistically realized within the limitless depths entrenched within the realms of the cinematic medium.
Hitchcock approaches these qualities of the surreal by alluding subtlety and ever so slightly towards the intentionally conveyed abstractions by developing the piece more rigidly on the principles, not of what is, but of what is not. He refuses to reprieve the actions of that which moves towards the illusory glance, instead preferring to immerse one in the processes of the infatuation of the apparition and the rejection of realistic parameters. We see the magnitude of heights, not through an accurate detailing of the exact measurements considered, but rather as the acrophobic distortion of Scottie’s intensified nightmare. We see very little of the independent and quite separate life of Judy, but instead linger under the guise of Scottie’s perception of the perfected dreamlike entity of Madeleine.
Perception governs the foundations of the picture, and it is through Scottie’s perceptions that Hitchcook intends to explore that very complicated experience of the male human consciousness specifically.
It is not simply an obsessive predisposition, in so far as to suggest that the male observer does not merely linger on the subject of their preoccupations from the guise of a truly objective stance. It is instead, the remodelling and projected subjective imaginations on to the perceived subject, that truly drives the voyeuristic experience. For even to suggest that Scottie’s activities are in a sense “voyeuristic”, is to assign an inaccurate property to a visual experience that contrary to the traditional conditions of voyeurism, thrives on direct interference. Orthodox voyeurism is an attribute more correctly fashioned for Hitchcook’s previous work Rear Window. However, similarly to Rear Window, Vertigo facilitates the attainment of grander aspirations and loftier reflective criticisms on the fundamental viewer, the audience itself.
Man’s complicated relation with the objective qualities of reality, under the burdening circumstances of his own consciousness, compels him, almost inevitably, to reject the unchangeable proponents for aspects more aligned to personalized subjective preferences. He reworks, or attempts with futile efforts to rework the very fabric of nature into his own image, as if he were God, in what he would consider to be the pursuit of his happiness.
While i use “Man” generally so as to encompass the collective individuals of the homosapien type, i use it specifically in addition to this, so as to appreciate the feminist critical interpretaions of the Man’s reality, the pivotal concept of the film as elaborated previously. This frivolous attempt to rework objective constructs is, as detailed by Hitchcook, an action carried forth by men on any canvas they may consider, especially on the supposed canvas of the feminine form. Man’s happiness, and therefore purpose, gravitates around the perfection of beauty, but not within the confines of a realism but instead within the parameters of a surrealistic beauty of their own telling. In relation to the feminine form, it is not an organic beauty desired, but instead the continuous idealism and the realization of his own dreams. Henceforth the position of the feminine form, the feminine in its entirety, is to be projected upon, the masculine form projects.
The canvas as mentioned momentarily permeates all objects that can become states of scrutiny. The Artist works almost exclusively in this reworking of reality. Hitchcock as an impeccable artist of his own right, acknowledged this duty, and feared not the responses of deplore and disgust in the fastening of his own dreams, his own films. He moved so wholeheartedly to accept the telling of his private and inner fantasies, that all reservations and the perversions of his own psychological persona would shine without withdrawal.
But of course, as was his nature, he subliminally questions the audience in their habitual reproaches towards his mythologies, his rejection of a reality that is defined. The audience rejects reality in the very viewing of the cinematic piece. The audience too is capable of a great obsession with the unreal. And in its frightful conclusion, just as the veil of our hallucinations is cast aside, we too mirror Scottie, we too become perplexed in our return of what is, and what is, is usually what is not.