Similarities Between Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” And “North By Northwest” Essays Examples
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Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, shot “Vertigo” and “North by Northwest” within a year of each other – in 1958 and 1959. Both films were very successful and are still watched by the contemporary audience. Alfred Hitchcock is a director with a prominent style and his pattern can be traced in each of his movies. Still, there are two with particular similarities worth of discussing and analyzing – “Vertigo” and “North by Northwest”.
Both films are thrillers with a music score by Bernard Herrmann. The main character (Scottie/ Roger) goes through some psychological and physical difficulties for the reason that he is a victim of some person (or a group of people) who has his own motives of profit with the help of the main character. He is deceived by a false or even non-existent character that drives him crazy. The woman involved in his fooling, the gorgeous blonde, eventually falls in love with which ruins the plan. But why did the choice fall exactly on him? The audience has no idea. Hitchcock’s method of suspense here keeps the audience on the edge of its seats.
The director’s cameo occurrence in the beginning of the movie is his signature, and “Vertigo” and “North by Northwest” are no exceptions. The films were shot in big cities, and the production team used sets both on location and areas recreated in the studio. The films contain lots of scenes where the characters drive a car – they are almost always depicted heading down the city’s streets.
The films are considered very elegant and stylish – the cars, the costumes, and the interiors are well-designed. The wardrobe of the main characters was carefully selected in order to make the audience understand the heroes better – the male character is successful, and female character does everything to catch him in her toils. The alcohol is a necessary part of the movies’ atmosphere – the male character drinks whiskey (bourbon) and soda.
It is impossible not to notice that though Hitchcock planned to make “North by Northwest” funnier and lighter than his previous dark motion picture “Vertigo”, but still the themes are the same – mistaken identity, deception and moral relativism. The films create the fantasy world the main character happens to find himself in – he cannot believe it and has no idea what is happening to him. The characters in the film are also very similar – an elegant man and inventive man falling in love with a charming seductive woman.
The attentive viewer might notice the famous MacGuffin technique in “Vertigo” and “North by Northwest” – the plot device aiming to make everyone in the film pursue something that is not really important in the overall plot. In “Vertigo”, the point was to actually define what was wrong with Madeleine before showing her to the doctor, but the audience is so possessed with the mystery and the love affair that it becomes unimportant. In “North by Northwest”, everyone is chasing some government secrets hidden in the microfilm – again, the viewer does not really pay attention to this.
Alfred Hitchcock mixes murders and psychology in both his movies. He reflects upon the obsession with a woman and the psychological weakness of the female villain. The director highlights the valley of the shadow of death by putting his protagonists into hanging from high places which reminds the audience of a future James Bond series. The idea of the perfect murder is also prominent in both movies.
The devices used by Hitchcock form his style and make him recognizable. His contribution to the cinema world is enormous and his motion pictures are worth analyzing and giving credits to the genius director.
MOORE, MATTHEW. “Did Alfred Hitchcock make a secret cameo appearance in drag?” The Daily Telegraph (2008).
THOMPSON, DAVID. “Haunted by Hitchcock’s Vertigo”. San Francisco Chronicle (2012).
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