Daily Dose #15: Lissajous Figures (Title Design Sequence from Vertigo)
Posted 19 July 2017 - 03:11 AM
The music and images are chilling, worrisome, anxious, is someone watching me, hands over my eyes and peek atmosphere. It's like haunted houses, I dislike them but the thrill finds me there occasionally.
This intro says Beware Thriller Ahead!!! Someone is watching and they are crawling into your thoughts. I hope I make it through the film. And I'll have to watch it no lights... The scenes in lecture have toned it down but the opening credits are really powerful and eerie.
Single most powerful image is the black with white lines still shot of eye before our journey out of the mind where more spirals begin leading us out through the pupil and window to the soul. This tells me that whatever is going to happen will be a journey to the depths and back where vertigo lives. There is no substitute for the works of this sequence. Hands down best I have ever had the pleasure of being part.
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Posted 19 July 2017 - 03:09 AM
The most powerful image is of the constant spiraling, which begins as an eye and results in two linked rings. As stated before, this image is a clue to the meaning of the French story title upon which the film is based. The eye belongs to a woman who apparently has witnessed two deaths linked to each other. The film is principally about a period of time between the first death (Madeleine) and the second death (Judy).
The score punctuates the eye spiraling into two linked rings by constant changes from loud to soft, staccato to fluid, bass to woodwinds, melodic to cacophonous, etc. A more traditional, romantic or melodramatic score would not work with the graphics although an atonal composition could point up the condition of vertigo, as flatly stated by the film's title.
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Posted 19 July 2017 - 02:57 AM
DAILY DOSE #15 (Vertigo).
1. The minor arpeggio and sharp discordant brass accents along with the fade into hypnotic spirals suggest this will be a psychological thriller.
2. The zoom to the tearing eye when the screen turns red with the sharp brass suggests despair and murder.
3. While the graphics suggests psychological disorientation, the music creates an air of suspense, tension and disharmony.
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Posted 19 July 2017 - 02:00 AM
This is a Hitchcock film, so the audience has some idea of what to expect, but the opening credits by Saul Bass makes it even more so. You really don't know what kind of film this will be. Moving from the lower left of the face, then to the lips, up along the nose, then the eyes, is something that could be expected, but the music sends a chill up your spine and the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, it is jarring, They will not be getting this on the top 100 hits Billboard. “The bump in the night” starts right off.
The colorization as the close up of the right eye and the images coming from that eye, spinning, growing larger. We know it from Universal and B horror films, but this is different from what to expect from Hitchcock, this is a mad doctor idea from horror genre, While we expect the unexpected from Hitchcock, this is almost too much. The psychological issues will be great in this film, no matter where we are going. To use something for music as they did in Shadow of a Doubt would confuse, but in no was as the music of Bernard Herrmann does.
Interesting that in Shadow of a Doubt the waltz scene at the beginning and end and the photograph with the date 1888 puts it in the time frame of the real killer, the movie was based on, Earl Leonard Nelson, who did his crimes in the 1920's, while the movie is set in 1945 Santa Rosa, surprisingly untouched by war.
This is a interesting link to Nerdwriter about how Hitchcock blocked out the first scene in Vertigo, that sets up everything for the rest of the movie. It is worth watching about 10 minutes. Watch on a BIG screen, if you can.
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Posted 19 July 2017 - 01:17 AM
This is one of Alfred Hitchcock's most powerful, deep, and stunningly beautiful films (in widescreen 70 mm VistaVision) - it is a film noir that functions on multiple levels. At the time of the film's release, it was not a box-office hit, but has since been regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. The work is a mesmerizing romantic suspense/thriller about a macabre, doomed romance - a desperate love for an illusion.
It is an intense psychological study of a desperate, insecure man's twisted psyche (****) and loss of equilibrium. It follows the troubled man's obsessive search to end his vertigo (and deaths that result from his 'falling in love' affliction). Hitchcock's work was a masterful study of romantic longing, identity, voyeurism, treachery and death. It also told about female victimization and degrading manipulation, the feminine "ideal," and the protagonist's fatal sexual obsession for a cool-blonde heroine. Hitchcock was noted for films with voyeuristic themes, and this one could be construed as part of a 'trilogy' of films with that preoccupation:
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Posted 19 July 2017 - 01:17 AM
Can I ask Dr. Edwards, what your intial impression of VERTIGO was when watching in your 20s? You didn't expand on that in the video lecture. I'm still in my very late 20s and it does seem to me that the movie does strike me a bit different than it did at first, though I'd have trouble articulating it. Perhaps some of it is being more romantically experienced than I was when I first saw it in high school as well as knowing more about the plot and seeing this film a few times later than when I first saw it when I was 16 or so.
1. First, that the, presumably, woman is fixed and trapped. The camera moves over her, stopped on her mouth as it purses and freezes on the first title credit (a male name), then scans her, almost as though she appears unwilling, then it zeroes in on her eyes first to the rightt hen the left and stops. To me, this viewpoint, locks one into someone looking from afar. The title credit of "in Alfred Hitchcock's" flashes before the camera moves further into the eye as the eyelids expand and signal fear and the color changes to red (blood, passion, etc.), before somewhat settling...and then the spirals ensue.
2. Very tough to pick just one. I'll stick with what most jumped out at me before, it's that first green/teal spiral after the first pink spiral in the eye is enlarged to engulf the frame. I'm not sure if it's the most impactful visual, but it always stood out for me, even early on, in terms of continuing to burrow into the eye, spiraling in, zeroing in on a subject of interest, the female gaze and the woman's eye, and just continuing to focus, obsess if you will, which ends up as key to Scotty's character and the film. How much is a fetish? What more is there to a fetish beyond looking at the thing? How about obsession? All things I think about when trying to grapple with VERTIGO.
3. The spiraling circling together is so heavily re-enforced, it's difficult to imagine a stronger score to emphasized more of how circling and repeated and fixating also kept burrowing deeper, particularly the trance-like effect in certain moments.
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Posted 18 July 2017 - 11:25 PM
Today's Daily Dose is Saul Bass's opening title design sequence from Vertigo. The music used in the titles was composed by another favorite Hitchcock collaborator, Bernard Herrmann. A third collaborator on this sequence was early computer animation and avant-garde filmmaker John Whitney. Together, the three create one of the most iconic title designs in all of cinema history.
Watch the sequence over at the Canvas course and then discuss why it is such a powerful way to open what many consider to be one of Hitchcock's masterpieces, Vertigo.
Here are three questions to get the conversation started:
1. Describe what you think this film will be about simply from the sounds and images in these opening credits. Even if you have seen the film, try to focus on these sounds and images themselves and “the story” (or if not "the story," then the mood and atmosphere they are establishing) that this sequence is communicating to the audience.
2. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer.
3. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score?
Richard Edwards, PhD
Ball State University
Instructor: TCM Presents: The Master of Suspense: 50 Years of Hitchcock (2017)
Instructor: TCM Presents: Painfully Funny: Exploring Slapstick in the Movies (2016)
Instructor: TCM Presents: Into the Darkness: Investigating Film Noir (2015)
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