If you have only ever seen Vertigo, how Alfred Hitchcock earned the honorific title “the master of suspense” is probably a great mystery to you. In this film, which was maligned in 1958 but is now considered the best film of all time, Hitchcock does not save the big reveal for the end and by his own standards, he is very sparing with tension and action.
Critics in 1958 who found the film implausible were not entirely wrong. But Vertigo is also a hypnotic example of the power of film to transcend reason and to draw the viewer into the mysterious world of dreams and nightmares, alienation and surrealism, psychological darkness and expressionistic colours.
The mythical opening credits by Saul Bass suck you in immediately. The masterful mise en scène, superior camera work, and ingenious sets undercut any idea of escape. You are mercilessly overwhelmed by the generally so good-natured James Stewart who has a fear of heights and is consumed by his fascination for Kim Novak, who disappeared before his eyes. Dizzying and modern.