First off, its the movie, not the disease...
At first, I couldn’t understand why this movie was on the top 100 list, especially since it made number 9 on the updated, 2007 list. Of course, this is Alfred Hitchcock so it is definitely a psychological thriller, but the strange behaviour of Madeline definitely made this a classic. The title even, "Vertigo", is barely central to the plot, then suddenly it appears. The nature of mental illness and love and acute melancholia and a guilty conscience are at the heart of this amazingly gripping movie. The deeper in you go, the more it makes you say, “What is going on?” Then you remember that it is Alfred Hitchcock and you wonder why you didn’t see it coming.
It is said that a majority of people in mental institutes are in because of guilt. Without fully thinking that thought through as it applies to this movie, I believe this is related. I’ve only seen a couple of other Hitchcock movies, but in those the plots were similar to each other. In “The Birds”, “Psycho”, and “North by Northwest”, the plot revolves around a strange occurrence which seems plausible, but involved something stalking someone else. In Vertigo, the scenario seems implausible, but you soon believe that it is real.
After a while, as the facets of the diamond are polished up, the reality appears, this is a great movie!
The most startling thing about this movie is the way that Scotty begins to obsess over his lost love and works to replace her by dressing up a passer-by to look like her. You feel a queasiness, being fully aware that this man is not well. What is even more shocking than his requests of his new love is that, though she knows it is not healthy, and that he is pursuing a love from the past, she goes along with it to be with him. She plays a character and falls for him, while he falls for the character, not her.
So what do we do with this? “It’s just a movie,” we say, and trudge on. I wonder though. Do I expect my wife to turn into what I want her to be? Do I love her for who she is? Can we say we truly love if we want them to change? As years go by in any relationship, new secret rooms are opened up to us, either revealed or discovered. How we handle these revelations speaks loudly to the depth and commitment of our love. Will we grow and continue to love or will we expect things to change in our partner?