A Convention Shattering Ending

Endeavouring to augment my lockdown entertainment levels, yesterday evening I rewatched the classic Alfred Hitchcock 1958 movie Vertigo. The psychological thriller which bravely cocked a snook at the happy ending rule book. Which until that juncture seemed to dictate even the starkest of celluloid offerings concluded with the hero/heroine intact….. Well, almost, anyhow.

A decade or so back, after my inaugural witnessing of this motion picture, it struck me initial audiences in the late 1950’s must’ve left the theatre/cinema with conflicting emotions. Admiration from two hours of gripping suspense, drawing in viewers with every nuance and plot twist, tempered with shock after being blindsided with the screenplay’s convention defying ending.

I’ve got to admit that, as a stage hand and gravity combo dropped the curtain, although deserving of plaudits for it’s avant-garde final scenes, Vertigo’s melancholic plot conclusion slightly diminished my post movie esprit levels.

Not that it matters, but as an inane diversion, at the time I was torn between whether the stage hand or gravity deserves greater plaudits for undertaking the drape drop. Finally concluding, without wishing to demean the theatre employee’s contribution, gravity plays a significantly more integral role in the animal kingdoms existential well-being.

On first witnessing the movie (on DVD) yours truly felt similar to when, in a school history lesson, first clapping eyes on the Bayeux Tapestry. I was agog at the creativity and skilled workmanship of this Norman Conquest cloth depiction – However, upon reaching the scene exhibiting King Harold’s death by arrow, it’s fair to say the artistically enlightening experience’s gloss developed somewhat of a matt hue.

Despite bearing no psychiatric qualifications, I’d proffer the human default emotional setting is ordinarily on the side of episodes with uplifting conclusions. Well, unless schadenfreude floats your boat, or you possess the darkest of souls; in which case you may not agree with GJ Strachan. However, with rose tinted naivety, I’d like to believe we all prefer a brio imparting final scene to any tale, be that factual or fictitious.

Like jockey Frankie Dettori’s legs, life’s too short to wish ill will upon others. There’s exceptions where our goodwill will be severely tested; such as not wishing serendipitous circumstances to befall the evil, or individuals guilty of undercooking hardboiled eggs on salads, along with the misguided who’re unappreciative of gravity. However, the vast majority of us would surely have wished for a chirpier plot conclusion to Vertigo.

You may ponder why I’ve decided to compose a review and psychological analysis of this particular movie. After all, you’ll no doubt observe, I’m not a film reviewer or psychologist, not to mention the bloody thing was released over 60 years ago….. Leading to your cries of “Why so late to the party, Strachan?”

Well, this literary riff about a classic Hitchcock movie was merely borne from yesterday’s viewing of this aforementioned piece of cinematic art. In particular, my admiration of the master of suspense’s risk at wrapping up the motion picture in such a controversial, maverick style.

GJ Strachan’s admiration consequential of Hitch’s decision to shamelessly test previously held edicts on how to consummate fictional movies. In doing so creating a finale which was both creatively magnificent and disappointing in equal measure.

You’ll notice, not wishing to spoil the motion picture’s controversial wrap, within this piece I’ve avoided penning details of the final scene. I’d never forgive myself if I let slip that, against everyone’s expectations, Kim Novak’s character Madeleine (the heroine) threw herself from a bell tower to her death…… Although, not as surprised as James Stewart’s character Scottie was I’d venture.

Leave a Reply