Vertigo

With the biopic Hitchcock opening next week, now's the perfect time to revisit his 1958 masterpiece Vertigo, which just bumped Citizen Kane off the top of the decadal Sight & Sound poll. No, I didn't vote, but I rank the film as the the most emotionally resonant tragedy of Alfred Hitchcock's long career. Jimmy Stewart is the San Francisco cop, afraid of heights, who falls for Kim Novak, loses her, and then gradually loses his mind while trying to recreate her image with another woman (also Novak, unbeknownst to him). The psycho-thriller is less overtly Freudian than, say, Psycho, but plunges deepest into the psyche of a guy so in love with a dead woman (who claims to be a reincarnation) that his urges push a live woman—who can't live up to his ideal—to her death. It's eros and thanatos dancing to a classic score by Bernard Herrmann (to say nothing of the famous Saul Bass poster), pulling Stewart inexorably into the fatal whorl of his own passion, like the spiral curl of Novak's blond hair, like the twisted tissues of his own cortex. (NR) BRIAN MILLER

Fri., Nov. 23, 6:15 & 8:45 p.m.; Nov. 24-29, 2012

 
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