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Slideshow

VERTIGO

Saturday, August 14

7:50*

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*Zoom introduction by Steven C. Smith, author of A Heart at Fire’s Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann

(1958, Alfred Hitchcock) Acrophobic ex-cop James Stewart, hired to shadow seemingly death-obsessed Kim Novak, saves her from drowning in the shadow of the Golden Gate bridge, but not from a fall off a Mission steeple. But then, he meets her again – or does he? Hitchcock shrugged off collaborators’ objections to reveal the solution midway (“Do we want suspense or surprise?”) in what is essentially one of the screen’s most wrenching treatments of loss and – in Mr. Nice Guy Stewart’s tormented performance – of sexual obsession. In 2012, Vertigo bumped Citizen Kane as the #1 movie of all time in the once-a-decade Sight & Sound poll. DCP. Approx. 128 mins.

Reviews

“#1 GREATEST FILM OF ALL TIME!”

– BFI’s Sight and Sound, 2012

“One of the landmarks—not merely of the movies, but of 20th-century art. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film extends the theme of Rear Window—the relationship of creator and creation—into the realm of love and sexuality, focusing on an isolated, inspired romantic (James Stewart) who pursues the spirit of a woman (the powerfully carnal Kim Novak). The film’s dynamics of chase, capture, and escape parallel the artist’s struggle with his work; the enraptured gaze of the Stewart character before the phantom he has created parallels the spectator’s position in front of the movie screen. The famous motif of the fall is presented in horizontal rather than vertical space, so that it becomes not a satanic fall from grace, but a modernist fall into the image, into the artwork—a total absorption of the creator by his creation, which in the end is shown as synonymous with death. But a thematic analysis can only scratch the surface of this extraordinarily dense and commanding film, perhaps the most intensely personal movie to emerge from the Hollywood cinema.”
– Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

“HITCHCOCK’S MOST LUMINOUS MASTERPIECE AND A LANDMARK OF WORLD CINEMA! His most painfully confessional work is a beautiful spectacle that is devoted to driving romantic obsession to the point of madness. Watching the film is rather like a slow rollercoaster ascent up a very long and very slight slope, and then a rapid descent into the abyss with ever accelerating emotional and aesthetic speed. Stewart’s final eloquent gesture of supplication suggests a towering modern tragedy of absurdist illusions, yet the dirty secret of this profoundly beautiful film and art object is its core of tawdry intrigue.”
– Andrew Sarris, Village Voice

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