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Daily Dose #15: Lissajous Figures (Title Design Sequence from Vertigo)


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#21 dan_quiterio

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 09:54 PM

Watching and listening to the title sequence of Vertigo, I'm left with a moody, haunting feeling. Something certainly goes awry in this film. There's danger and discomfort. This is perhaps most apparent to me in the visual of the extreme close-up of the eye as the frame tints red, the film's title emerges from the eye, and Herrmann's fright-inducing score hits a climax. There's something uncomfortable about an eye; pair that with the color of danger and you have me prepared to watch a film that I'll be thinking about for a long time--for better or worse.


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#22 melissasimock

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Posted 28 July 2017 - 05:54 PM

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," the mood and atmosphere they are establishing) that this sequence is communicating to the audience. 

 

From this sequence, it appears to be about a woman, and the inner workings of her mind.  Turmoil.  Things may not be as they appear to be.  There is a definite sense of unease.  This scene also gives me the feeling that time is fluid here.  

 

 

In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer.

 

The blue one that does not swirl, but gets larger as it comes closer to the viewer.  All the imagery is eye related, but this one stands out to me.  It reminds me of when someone gives you the evil eye.  Slightly squinted.  Cold.  There is a sinister feel to it.

 

 

 

How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score?

 

They work so well together.  Both the images and the music convey the hallucinogenic feel of the film.  They are in sync.  

I'm sure another score could be written that would also be effective.  But there are few that could achieve what Herrmann's score has.


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#23 terranightangel

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Posted 27 July 2017 - 07:00 PM

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," the mood and atmosphere they are establishing) that this sequence is communicating to the audience. 

 

It makes you think the film is going to be about mystery and people lost in their own mind or running in circles without figuring out what really is going on at the time.  Though the beginning shot on the female and the end shot on her, leads one to think the film will be about her losing her own mind in an unease and mystery setting. 

 

 

In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer.

 

The swirls leading in and out of the female's eyes.  It is this image that focuses on her over another character or story idea. It also leads into her and out of her which gives off the idea her mind is at risk in this story.  

 

How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score?

 

It wouldn't work without this score or something similar to it.  The music picks up volume and loses it like the swirling drawings. There are notes that sound like a finger sliding up and down the violin while the bow continues on the same string, though it could be a different musical instrument being played. This helps to add to the unease of the opening scene.  


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#24 Mrs. Archie Leach

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 11:02 PM

  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," 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?

 

The extreme closeup of the woman's face is uncomfortable and unsettling. Combined with the score, which is both intoxicating and jarring, you get the sense that something frightening will occur. The Lissajous figures are fascinating but I felt myself afraid to stare at them too deeply for fear that I would be lost in them. The overwhelming feeling i get from the opening sequence is unease. 

 

The single most powerful image in the sequence is the closeup of the woman's eye, particularly at the moment when it widens in fear. The hypnotic spiral figures have a quieting, lulling effect but the eye, combined with the loud, jarring parts of the music knock you out of that pretty quickly. It feels too intimate. It's an invasion of space and privacy for the audience to see her so closely, when the eye widens and she seems to flinch, we feel violated with her. It's visceral.

 

I think the score and the titles work brilliantly together. It's hard to imagine them separate from one another. They each support the other's artistic purpose. The images alone, if set to a more upbeat and lighter score might not seem so intense and frightening. The score without the images/titles would only be vaguely ominous but would not hint at the psychological aspects of the story.


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#25 johnseury

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 07:07 PM

1. From the opening, you gather that the film is about swirling passion over a woman and the tricks that go on inside a person's head. It's a heavy trip, like they would have said 10 years after this film was released.
2. The deep penetration into Kim Novak's eye and the hurricane-looking spiral. Very indicative of stormy passion and destructiveness.
3. The images and score are a perfect combination. It is hard to imagine or appreciate one without the other. And if either element was paired with something else, I don't think that it would work.

#26 shamus46

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 03:14 PM

  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," the mood and atmosphere they are establishing) that this sequence is communicating to the audience. Both the sound and images gives the impression of troubled uneasiness. The music reminds me of Sci-fi films and the feeling of the unknown about to be revealed.  Will it be threatening or an instance of beneficial revelation?  The swirling images contribute to the uneasiness.
  2. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer.  The close-up of the eye, opened wide with pin-point iris', and bathed in red, enhances the image of volatility.  The spiral originating within the eye could give the viewer some sense of vertigo.
  3. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? The images and music score are in sync. They play off of each other and create an unsettled edginess. A different score would've probably destroyed the whole effect.

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#27 ChristyKelly

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 02:25 PM

  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," the mood and atmosphere they are establishing) that this sequence is communicating to the audience. 
    The music immediately conveys to me that this is an "otherworldly" film - on the order of The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. The repeating flute sequence puts the audience on guard because we are about to plunge into the unknown. The close up of the various parts of the face convey a psychological thriller. The mood is unrest, discomfort, and a mesmerizing or hypnotic experience.
  2. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer.
    I'd say the most powerful image is the Lissajous figures because you can't take your eyes off them. When at the end of the sequence you see it in the eye of Kim Novak, then her eye opens wide, you know you're in for one heck of a ride.
  3. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score?
    There's something symbiotic between Herrmann's score and the rhythm of the Lissajous figures revolving. It's mesmerizing and suspenseful because of the length of time they revolve with the repeating musical sequence. It's almost telling us to stay calm, but we know better!

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#28 ChrisSturhann

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 11:39 AM

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," the mood and atmosphere they are establishing) that this sequence is communicating to the audience.
 
From the extreme closeups of Kim Novak's face at the beginning, two words emerge for me, sex and obsession. Then as we move to her eye and the filter turns red, and I get the sense of danger. When the swirl appears, I think that about there being something mysterious behind the eyes in the mind. The swirls seem both organic and artificial at the same time, like there is something going on in the mind that is impossible to understand.
 
 
2. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer.
 
My first inclination is to say the eye, but the eye is not a single image but an amalgamation of multiple effects and images, so that seems to be cheating. There a lot of tricks going on with the eye that take you through a number of thoughts and emotions. I would say the white swirl that appears with Edited by George Tomasini credit is the most powerful single image because it looks vaguely like an eye and hearkens back to all that was going on with the eye the first time.
 
3. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? 
 
I don't see anyone else doing the score as well as Bernard Herrmann here. I never really thought about this before but, it seems that most classic film scores, create music to support the action, there is emotion there too, but that seems secondary. With Bernard Herrmann at his best (in particular, Vertigo and Psycho), it almost seems like it is the other way around. The emotion is primary and the action is secondary.


#29 Shannon.H

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 07:26 PM

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," the mood and atmosphere they are establishing) that this sequence is communicating to the audience. 

 

To me it is communicating with the music a much darker tone for the film and the eye images almost seem to evoke that someone sees of views something frightening.

 

In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer.

 

​I would defiantly say the eye close up.  The music and spirals making a hallucinogenic effect, but the eye I find most powerful an image.

 

How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? 

 

 

They honestly fit like a glove.  I don't know how they worked on it, but the titles and music really work together.  I love that Bernard Herrmann's scores are very distinct, I think they set the tone for the films in a cool way.  



#30 startspreading

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 04:05 PM

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," the mood and atmosphere they are establishing) that this sequence is communicating to the audience. 

The woman’s face makes me think of obsession. When it turns red, I can think of tragedy, doom. When the spirals come to the screen, I think about falling, being trapped, entering a labyrinth. From then on, I only feel dizzy, like I’m falling into a pit without the chance of saving myself.

 

2.    In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer.

The eye turning red. It is a surprise to see a regular eye turning blood red, and then the title coming from inside the eye. Then we enter the eye, with all the spiraling going on inside the woman’s mind. I see it as a sign of tragedy, as if the story between the characters was doomed from the very start – from the title itself.

 

3.    How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score?

The score itself is hypnotic. Before we see any image, when all we have are the black and white logos, we already have a hypnotic feel. We can hear a “spiral” thing in the score: it goes on and on, again and again. It’s repetition, but it is effective.



#31 GeeWiz

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 02:29 PM

1. Sounds and images in these opening credits as a story: 

If you only watched the opening sequence you might think the story was about hypnosis, mind control, or psychoanalysis.

 

2. The single most powerful image in this title sequence? 

When the B&W eye image turns to red, then the eye becomes the spiral motif. Reinforces the hypnotic elements of the entire sequence.

 

 

3. Images and score working together:

 

The score has a repetitious quality that is hypnotic, working nicely with the hypnotic graphics of the sequence. There are dark notes juxtaposed with whimsical notes that presuppose suspense.



#32 T-Newton

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 12:47 AM

1. I get the feeling that the movie is going to be about fear and a sense of helplessness.

2. The eyes. The main reason is that eyes can show one's emotion right off the bat, and in this case, we see the actress is uncomfortable and nervous, especially when her eyes start moving left and right quickly.

3. Saul Bass' title sequence and Bernard Herrmann's score practically go hand in hand in that they both give the feeling of being unsettled, fearful, and distraught. 



#33 sandeepchauhan

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Posted 25 July 2017 - 12:00 AM

Vertigo is easily in my top three Hitchcock films (along with Rear Window and North by Northwest) this opening title sequence sets up the film nicely. As stated in the lecture video it helps to create the fever dream experience of the film -- Bass' trance inducing visual design combined with Hermann's tense sound design create a strange reality for the viewer both calm and anxious at once.

 

As the viewer begins to be lulled into this fever dream, as the viewer focuses on Kim Novak's eye, with the score screeching in the background, the first of computer generated spirographs appears, almost as if created by the subconscious -- an excellent metaphor for Scottie's actions throughout the film. 



#34 Thief12

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 01:35 PM

Adding a bit more thoughts to this... up to this point, we've said repeatedly how Hitchcock liked to instill humor in his films, and how he and many critics consider his films as "dark comedy" above anything else. However, I don't think that's true of Vertigo. One of the films that I like more about the film is how dark and tragic is. There's few, if any, hints of comedy/humor here.

 

I've read arguments of critics and audiences stating that this film was an attempt of Hitchcock to be considered as a "serious" artist as opposed to a populist. What do you all think? Does any of his previous films have a similar, dark tone? The Wrong Man maybe?



#35 Thief12

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Posted 24 July 2017 - 11:07 AM

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", the mood and atmosphere they are establishing) that this sequence is communicating to the audience.

 

The visuals and the music evoke a sense of mystery and dread. I like the word Bass himself uses: unsettledness. The music has a certain cyclic and repetitive rhythm to it that is consonous with the spirals in the visuals. The title sequence tells you from the get-go that this will be a tense, psychological thriller.

 

2. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer.

 

The moment I find more powerful is the closeup on the eyes, how the model is trying not to blink, particularly the moment the screen turns red and the eye opens wider. I think it's a way to convey the essence of unsettledness that Bass speaks of, maybe the insomnia he experiments during the film, or perhaps that you have to keep your eyes open to not lose yourself.

 

3. How do Saul Bass' images and Bernard Herrmann's score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score?

 

Like I said in the first question, I think the cyclic and repetitive rhythm of the music goes perfect with the spiraling. Herrmann goes crescendo in certain moments to instill that tension and dread. It's tough to figure out how another composer would've handled this sequence, but I think Herrmann works perfectly.

 



#36 AmyV

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 11:38 PM

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," the mood and atmosphere they are establishing) that this sequence is communicating to the audience.

If I had not seen the movie & just watched this opening, I believe I would think (also due to the film title) that it was a psychologically-oriented movie, a psychological drama, if not a thriller.  The music intimates the same thing.  I might wonder by it showing the face & focusing in on the eye then the spiral pattern if it could be about a person who sort-of goes crazy. 

 

2.    In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer.

For me, I would say it is when the picture of the eye turns all red and then the first spiral pattern appears there.  It is powerful because it is the first glimpse of color then dizzying spirals originating in the eye.  It also resembles a hypnotism taking place. 

 

3. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score?

Each one works with the other to support the idea of someone's psychological state and will-it or won't-it fall apart?  It feels like a kind of psychological journey will take place, at least.  The symphonic music tends to sound ominous, foreboding.  Without it, it might not feel as heavy and foreshadowing of the horrors to come. 

 



#37 Robinv

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 05:44 PM

1. The music is scary and repetitive and is synced to the spirals. She seems afraid.



2. Kim Novak eyes darting from side to side. This is giving me the notion that she is uneasy. Maybe even paranoid. She is not in a normal state of mind.

3. The music and the title sequence works seamlessly together. The repetitive music and spirals are evoking an uneasy, not in control sort of feeling. The character will be on an unending journey that may never stop.

#38 Jennifer Anne

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 01:48 PM

1. The atmosphere established is eerie and evocative of a journey through the unknown. The camera takes us on this journey, beginning with the visible means of sensual perception--eye and mouth--and slowly works its way inward through the pupil of the eye to the intangible subjective world of the mind as expressed through mutating graphics. The music echoes the motion of the spiral and it is the shape of the eye from which all patterns emerge.

2. Definitely the close-up of Novak's eye with the the graphic spiral seemingly emerging from her pupil. It is a visual manifestation of "the mind's eye" which is at the heart of the movie's subject. This image brings the realistic (photographed human eye) and subjective worlds together to evoke the distorted perception and depersonalizing effects of vertigo.

3. They work seamlessly together to add an emotional dimension to the haunting, rotating, and repetitive rhythm of the spiral. I began answering these questions before watching the daily lecture video; when Prof. Edwards pointed out the hypnotic effect of the introduction I yelled out "of course!!". Why wasn't I seeing that before? Guess I was too busy being hypnotized ;)

#39 ajprice-1

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Posted 23 July 2017 - 09:07 AM

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," the mood and atmosphere they are establishing) that this sequence is communicating to the audience. It’s hard to divorce my answer from my multiple viewings of this movie, but I’m trying to recapture my feelings from the first time that I saw it. The music is eerie, but the images are even more unsettling. You know that something ominous is coming.

2.    In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer. There is a moment in the series of whirling, changing images when one appears that is turning left to right instead of right to left. It is the only one to do so. When I see that, I have to close my eyes to escape the nauseous physical response. If anyone has never experienced vertigo, that image gives you a personal introduction.

3. How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? The cadence of the musical score stays even and almost soothing underneath the stab of discordant notes that accompany the more jarring images. It’s hard to imagine another score, but the images would be lost in a less dream-like auditory experience. It’s important that this score be almost tuneless. You aren’t going to walk away whistling this one


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#40 MrNews

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 10:43 PM

It's difficult to see this sequence with fresh eyes, having viewed the film numerous times. But feigning amnesia, I would have to say that, from the title art and opening music, I expect to be dizzied and confused; and I am not disappointed.

 

Most relevant comment in this course so far: the fact that Vertigo is perceived quite differently as one ages. As a college and graduate film student in my 20's, I saw this film as "artsy-fartsy" and didn't really "get" the themes. Forty years later, Scotty's psychological foibles are not so foreign to me. But it's still frustrating at hell, now as then, that he doesn't drop the whole dumb Madeleine thing, and just cuddle up with adorable Barbara Bel Geddes.....


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