Critical Essay on Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock

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For some mysterious reason the name of Alfred Hitchcock is related in the public consciousness to the genre of horror movies, although the closest to horror movies he ever filmed are his iconic psychological thrillers, which are about as similar to horror films as Rembrandt’s paintings to comic books. Vertigo is one of the most picturesque examples of his creative work, becoming the constant source of inspiration and imitation for the decades after it had been shot.

The main characteristic feature of this film is its incredibly tangled plotline that makes several very sharp turns in the course of action, always taking the most unusual and unexpected direction every time it happens. It is also marked by the usage of a plot device that is typical of Hitchcock (some people even consider him to be its inventor) – the so-called McGuffin. McGuffin is some idea, object or concept that is of considerable importance for most characters in the story, while presenting no interest whatsoever for the reader or viewer. It may be money, papers, jewels or something unexplained – in this case, it is the history and personality of a long-dead woman that the main character considers to possess another person. It, of course, after several plot turns, happens to be completely wrong.

The movie turned out to be highly successful in its time and became a subject of many imitations, such as Wild Things and Color of Night, which, although having completely different plots, still show a lot of similarities in style and method. All in all, it may be considered to be the classic of genre and, probably, the best film shot by Hitchcock at all.

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