'The Vertigo Effect': How Hitchcock Blocks A Scene To Show You What He Wants!

By Srikanth Kanchinadham. Posted on April 01, 2016

Very few filmmakers have had such a complete identification with a genre of filmmaking as Hitchcock has with his suspense dramas. Innumerable scenes come to mind, with scenes like the iconic shower scene from Psycho or the famous crop dusting scene from North by Northwest at the top of the list. Such is the power of Hitchcock and his narrative; be it the attempted single take Rope or the evocative simplicity of Rear Window, Hitchcock never failed to intrigue audiences through his deceptive and suspense filled storytelling. His works and discussions (especially the one with Truffaut) are a film school in itself.

His brilliance doesn't need any re-iteration; but this interesting video below on how he 'blocked scenes' highlights his use of cinematic language. The video analyzes an early scene from Vertigo, the multi leveled romantic thriller that amazed critics and audiences alike. Apart from its gripping narrative, the film is well known for using a great palette of colors that gave it a subliminal quality. The film also used a dye of bright unnatural colors to create the 'Vertigo Effect'; something that we cannot forget till date.

Notice how Hitchcock beautifully orchestrates the camera movements and that of his actors to open the premise of the film to the viewers. He carefully synchronizes the gestures & movements of his characters to showcase dominance among Jimmy Stewart and Tom Helmore. A small scene like this, when viewed analytically, reveals so much about the craft of filmmaking. All hail the power of the internet, for it is, our film school. :-)


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