HITCHCOCKED: “Vertigo” (1958)

22 08 2011

I’m fully prepared to take a lot of heat for what I’m about to say.  In fact, as I ponder making this statement in my head, I myself wonder if I’m a humongous hypocrite.  What I’m about to suggest could spark some serious outrage, perhaps on the level of suggesting “Citizen Kane” isn’t all that great (which I have gone on the record as saying is false).

I’d like to see “Vertigo,” with the same script, comparable actors, and the same Hitchcock penchant for filmmaking, be remade in the present day.

There, I said it.  It’s out there, I can’t take it back.  But while watching “Vertigo,” I was struck by the powerful and affecting portrait of a mentally disturbed policeman played by James Stewart.  I found Kim Novak’s work as the woman who claims to be possessed by the spirit of a dead woman to be frightening.  I felt Hitchcock’s masterful storytelling with the camera to be totally present.  I was totally engaged by the smart writing, which harkens to a mystery of almost mythical proportions.

Yet the visuals just felt so … outdated.  Yes, this is obvious given that the movie is over half a century old.  Obviously, it was about as good as it got back then.  But this is 2011, and when the camera is stuck in the past while the story remains timeless, it can’t help but be distracting.  In fact, it goes beyond that – it detracts.  The movie’s style now alienates us from the movie, pulling us out to remind us, “Oh, this is a movie, and this is how they could visually represent the fear of heights back then.”

So to maintain that pervasive sense of acrophobia, why not remake “Vertigo” with modern technology that would make this classic story work so much better for the audiences of today?  Isn’t that why we should be remaking movies?  Not just to be lazy or to sloppily “update” it to market to younger crowds, a remake of “Vertigo” that preserved the timeless integrity of the acting and storytelling would be perfect.  Because, perhaps with the exception of historic visual achievements, the look of a movie is something that should hold power no matter if it’s being shown in 1958 or 2011.  I’m convinced that it would have rocked me to my core had my eyes been borrowed from that era.

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5 responses

26 08 2011
Whiffer

Good idea, but who would have the talent to do it?
*starts thinking*

26 08 2011
Marshall

Christopher Nolan, perhaps? Darren Aronofsky? Obviously this is only a fantasy, I know no one will ever have the guts to touch Hitchcock’s movie. Especially after Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho.”

18 12 2011
Bob

I’d like to see George Clooney (just enough gray to remind of Jimmy Stewart), Bruce Willis (he’s played a cop so many times why not a retired cop?), or Nicholas Cage (has played tragic characters successfully before) play the Stewart role and Elisha Cuthbert (who has the beauty and is known as a blond and reminds one of Kim Novack and has played in thrillers before) play the female lead. Stewart was 50 when the original was made and Novack 25. The 3 actors are 50, 56, and 46 respectively and Cuthbert is 31. With that combination I think people would go see the movie even though the plot is known.

27 08 2011
pd1248

I’m happy you mention Van Sant’s experiment. While reading your review I couldn’t wait to respond with what a terrible idea it would be to remake “Vertigo” based on that terrible shot for shot remake of “Psycho”. But you might have a point. Think of the many who have missed some powerful films because- like my kids have complained- it’s in black and white! There’s always the chance that the remake will flop. But wouldn’t it at least make younger film-goers aware of the original and maybe entice them to search it out?

28 08 2011
Sam Fragoso

I’d prefer no one touch this masterpiece.

Entirely disagree with the visuals feeling outdated.

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