Vertigo (1958; directed by Alfred Hitchcock): Vertigo is Hitchcock’s best film, ranking #1 in the Sight & Sound critics’ poll of the ‘best movies ever made.’ It is the third of Hitchcock’s films dealing with deception. Rebecca and Suspicion portrayed a person’s deception by others. Vertigo deals with self-deception. The retired policeman, Scottie, is plagued with vertigo, but this is a red herring. The film is mainly about Scottie’s love for Madeleine Elster; and Scottie’s inconsolable loss after her death. After Madeleine’s death, Scottie meets Judy Barton by chance. Madeleine Elster and Judy Barton are the same person (both played by Kim Novak). And Scottie connives at an agreeable illusion to avoid the terrible darkness of his loss. Judy becomes Madeleine in Scottie’s mind. ‘Bad faith … has in appearance the structure of falsehood. Only what changes everything is the fact that in bad faith it is from myself that I am hiding the truth.’ (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness). [recommended by Robert Yanal, Wayne State University]

Scroll to Top