Dr. Rich Edwards

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

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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.”

I think I covered most of this in my answers to numbers 2 and 3.

          It’s been so long since I have seen Vertigo that I cannot remember much about it, so seeing it again will almost be like seeing it for the first time. I probably saw it on television, and films on television, especially from years ago, don’t always show the complete start of a film, and lots of great details are often edited out.

 

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

The most powerful image for me was the moment that the extreme close-up of the woman’s eye goes red. It made me think of illness, accidents, and death. All the subsequent spirals seem to emphasize an abstract image of the eye, perhaps the woman’s eye, perhaps anyone’s eye. It also made me think that maybe what we see, what viewers will see in the upcoming film, cannot be trusted.

 

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

The images and the musical score emphasize unease. From the moment the film starts, viewers are presented with visual images and sounds that put them off their guard. I think that if the music had been light and airy, it might have been even creepier because it would have made me think that callousness about violence was part of the upcoming story.

          This sequence must have been amazing on the big screen in 1954. I’m sure it was even more unsettling to feel like you were right up against Novak’s open red eye!

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From the opening sequence, I get that the film will be about psychosis caused by a woman.

The deeper you go, the crazier it'll become.

The music gives the feeling your slipping into a trance.

A Dark trance.

The music is not 'playful' or upbeat.

As the camera zooms in on the woman's features, you can tell this will be about obsession about a woman.

A dark ominous obsession further propelled by the music.

The eyes are the most powerful sequence accompanied by the music.

You can tell at first, the female is not 100% with you looking in her eyes so closely.

She begins to look away.

Avoiding the eye contact.

Then, once it's connected, the spirals begin to kick in.

Sometimes, it's best to look away.

The musical score suits the scene finely

The soft, spooky, repetitious flute accompanied by a follow up dramatic horn blast.

Perfect score for a hunt then kill.

The prowl, then attack sort of thing.

 

 

 

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1) The film is a journey down the rabbit hole all because of a woman and the infatuation with her. The music and the circling orbs if you will is extremely reminiscent of a trance and the more you look at the swirling orbs the more disorientating it becomes, and the music almost has a tunnel like effect it seems like the more you listen the more you "fall" into a hypnotic state and your grip on reality becomes lessened. 

 

2) The woman and her lips at the beginning really stays with me, because this is the reason for all of the chaotic spiral into your sanity (or is it insanity?) she holds the key to this man's infatuation as he spirals down with it, and will she help pull him through? Or is she a bad sign and should be avoided? Will there be a shot of the film focusing on her lips as she spews out a line of rejection which then defeats our MC's ego and spirit? The options are endless, and the closeup of the shot definitely suggest some high level of importance.

 

3) Putting it this way if there was a different score to go along with Bass's work on the opening titles there is no way it would have the same effect of mesmerizing insanity. It would just be random images with even more random strange images associated along with it.

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For sure the score and graphics lead us to the mind. It will either contain a dream or psychosis Of some kind, or both. We are being hypnotized during the opening, both by the music and art spirals, etc.

 

The most powerful image is the inner eye, just traveling in it. But it's the music that makes this so haunting. Everytime, I am amazed how it impacts me.

 

I feel as I am being hypnotized by imagery and music. The art of the spirals, etc. Are bold and strange as the music, both working together for perfect effect. Without one the other loses concept. Best opening ever.

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The opening sequence of Vertigo is a very unique collaboration of sound, filmed images and graphics so tightly integrated to express a sense of impending danger or an unstable situation and yet the haunting music score lulls you into soothing sounds of string instruments only to be hit with crescendos of brass or wind instruments.  The audience is being told, “Buckle your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!” (And we’re not even in the car yet!

 

The most powerful image in the title sequence for me would be the swirling whirlpool graphic emanating from the close-up of a woman’s eye.  The camera is moving to different portions of a woman’s face as the credits appear and fade away.  Once the camera begins to zoom in for an even more close-up of the eye, and the light source turns red as the film title Vertigo zooms out towards the audience until it floats away and is replaced by the whirlpool like graphic (Lissajous spirals) until it dominates the screen and we are swept away with Bernard Herrmann’s hypnotic score.

 

Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score could not be more complementary of each other.  According to Dan Auiler in his book Vertigo The Making of A Hitchcock Classic, “Bass worked with avant-garde filmmaker John Whitney who’s lifelong interest in creating cinematic visual effects that would match the aural effect of music…this was an effort to make the image itself the music.” What better way to make a film than to have a collaboration of artists each at the top of their game?  Again, Dan Auiler on Bernard Herrmann, “Swirling harps and blaring brass provide an aural equivalent to the vertigo effect Hitchcock committed to the screen.”  I believe Bernard Herrmann to be unsurpassed as a composer of film scores and his music alone will conjure up visual images that will require an equally gifted filmmaker to complete the set.

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This opening sequence suggest being off balance, fear, and dread. It goes without saying if you are viewing a Hitchcock film one is already prepared for a suspenseful ride and this opening only solidifies that feeling. I find the eyes and of course the swirling graphics support each other just as the design and score. When the eyes look back and forth, I see the concern of looking out for danger and then the widening of the eye indicates the fear that the danger has been seen. The swirling graphics make you feel off balance, dizzy, and then perhaps falling in a death spiral as the movie title suggests. When coupled with the score, you really get the feeling of impending doom.

 

If you have not seen Sicario, I recommend taking a look at the score by Johann Johannsson is brilliant and absolutely sets a feeling of dread in the viewer. Even at the ending sequence when there are children playing, with this music in the background you know that despite the simple innocence of children playing, there is great evil all around them. It received an oscar nomination.

 

Score plays a more significant role in pictures than most people recognize. A scene can absolutely pop if the score is right or fizzle if it is not. Sometime watch powerful scenes with the sound off and see if it hits you the same way.

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  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. There is a sense of hypnosis, and in a way James Stewart is hypnotized into believing what he sees throughout the movie (don't want to give it away in case someone hasn't seen Vertigo) It's also very circular - he's led on a circular chase throughout the film, and Hermann's score emphasizes that as well. The main theme of the piece is a very circular melody. One has a sense of being off balance in viewing the images, and that is what vertigo is. 

     

  2. In your own estimation, what is the single most powerful image in this title sequence? Defend your answer.It's the circular image in the woman's (Novak's) eye. Also reminscent of Janet Leigh lying dead in the bathtub in Psycho

 

How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score?I think they go hand in hand. I can't imagine any other music. The music is as iconic as the film itself and Stewart "running in circles" because of Novak's character is conveyed in the opening credits and in the music

 

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If I had never seen "Vertigo," I would think the film is about a period between two deaths. The obvious reason for this is that the opening sequence specifies that the story is based on a French story called "D'Entre des Morts." (Between the Deaths). I would think that the tale was about two deaths because the spiraling graphics always manifest in two rings linked to each other.

 

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.

 

Another translation of the title D'entre les morts (this is the correct title in French) is Among the Dead. Could the title be referring to everyone in the film, including the leads? I don't know: I haven't read the book or seen the film (Vertigo) in years. But it could be an interesting take on the narrative.

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1. Based on the title sequence of Vertigo, I think the film will be about psychosis and fear of some kind. The psychosis and fear will be related to a woman. Whatever the story in the film, it feels like it will have a cyclical structure. The spirals make it feel relentless, almost inevitable and repeating. 

2. In the opening sequence of Vertigo, the most powerful image for me was the static Lissajous figure that resembled an eye with a brow. Besides the fact that it resembled an eye (relating back to the closeup of Kim Novak's eye) it was also unmoving. The other Lissajous figures were spinning and this one remained still. As it moved closer, it began to look like a spider web that the viewer was getting caught in. This strengthened the feeling of being ensnared and trapped in something with little control over your plight.

3. Bass's images and Herrman's score work seamlessly. The music is cyclical, spinning and returning, just like the figures on the screen. There is also a dreamlike, otherworldly quality to the music that helps give the impression that we are entering a private world of dreams, visions and psychological issues. It is difficult to imagine this sequence with different music, because it is so obvious that the two artists worked together to create this. It makes me wonder who created what first? Did Bass create the images and then Herrman wrote his score to support it? Or did Herrman write the score and then Bass created the images to support it? Since the images and music work together so flawlessly, I would be very interested to find out how their collaboration worked.

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July 19, 2017 – Hitchcock lecture Part 15

 

 The film promises to be hypnotic—one that will get underneath your skin and appeal heavily to the senses, and subvert logic by sending us into a dream state. I expect to see surprises, twists, and experience surreal moments. Because we see such close-ups of a woman’s lips and eyes, I think the film will be about obsession or seduction.
 

2.  I think it’s the extreme close-up shot of the eye, but more specifically at the exact moment when the eyelid widens and the screen turns red. It’s shocking because it evokes terror through radical contrasts: the vibrant color contrasts heavily with the black and white image that precedes it (and the color red reminds me of blood), and it’s the moment when the music hits us with a strong brass/string sound, and finally, it’s where the title emerges, moving from a tiny spec to almost hitting us over the head.

 

3. The overall tune reminds us of a hypnosis, a journey into the deep, with a few surprises: Every new text element is introduced with a brass/string hit. Once we see the Lissajou spirals, the music enters a new phase, one that sounds deeper, and more epic in scale, and more tremolos from the strings, accommodating the jaggedness of the shapes. 

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1.  The opening sequence is unsettling, dramatic, surprising and mysterious.  I would assume the movie is the same.

 

2.  For me, the single most powerful image is when the screen turns red, the woman's eye widens in surprise and the title "Vertigo" come's toward the viewer (around 00.51).  Red represents danger, the woman seems afraid and something is coming toward us.  I think the sequence is set up to make the audience afraid.

 

3.  I think the music is what sets the mood for most of the sequence.  The twirling things alone would not make you afraid.  It would have an entirely different vibe if the music was "The Windmills of Your Mind".

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I will admit that I have not seen all of Vertigo yet.  However, I did read through the essay dealing with the significance of colors in the film.  So I will base my answers to some extent on that perhaps and what I saw in the opening credits, running the risk of over analyzing and misinterpreting the source materials, as my students accuse me of doing all the time.  :D

 

 

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. 

 

 

Suffering from mild epilepsy, as I do, I sense that something or someone will disrupt the equilibrium for another character (I'm assuming this will involve Novak and Stewart?)  I sense this because the credits open on various portions of what I am assuming is Kim Novak's face.  We are asked to look first at her jaw, then her lips, nose, and both eyes (these last three features being symmetrical/balanced).  No disequilibrium yet.  However, the camera then focuses on one eye and we are drawn into it, seemingly spiraling downward.  This creates a very unsettling feeling for me at least because of my "pre-exisiting" condition.  Coupled with the film's title, this opening sequence suggests that some sort of mental imbalance or instability will be the focus of the film.

 

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

 

 

I was entranced by the single eye that we are drawn into.  For me eyes are the most captivating and revealing feature on any person.  Eyes can convey so much (especially in Hitchcock's silent films when actors needed to advance plot and establish mood, tone, and character).  At the same time, eyes can possess an element of mystery, concealing true motives and feelings.  Finally, people can use their eyes to "ensnare" others.  Occasionally, I hear of people "falling into" someone's beautiful and captivating eyes.  Will this be the case in Vertigo?  I think Hitchcock wants us to be entranced by this single eye.  Why else would he and Bass draw us into it as they did with the camera focus and the spiraling graphics?

 

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

 

 

Speaking for myself, I was first introduced to Herrmann's scores with the film Psycho, which worked so well to convey the underlying sense of dread and suspense and to ratchet up the intensity of the shower scene and the final reveal in the basement when we meet Norman's mother.  Herrmann's scoring of the opening credits for Vertigo is equally effective in conveying this sense of disequilibrium I have alluded to.  Some components of the score are somewhat hypnotic for me, using flutes, I believe, interwoven with the more strident string and horn accompaniment?  The arrangement works very well in tandem with the spiraling images on the screen, both of which convey a sense of falling farther and farther into some sort of "web" perhaps?  The opening would have been less successful with a more buoyant string composition such as Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony because there is nothing peaceful about what will happen in the film.

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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. 

 

Lips.  Nose.  Eyes.  Black & White, zooming in to one eye which goes to blood red, the eye opens wide-horrified.  The music is stressful.   The spinning circles are hypnotic, surreal.  Not quite reality.  It sets up an dream-like experience.  The black opening of the circles, the all-seeing eye. 

 

 

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

The spinning discs, dream-like and hypnotic.  You can't stop watching.

 

 

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

 

The opening music is very, "tick-tock, tick-tock" hypnotic.  It gets stressful.  With the brass instruments blasting on top of the rhythmic woodwinds.  The spinning discs, different colors and changing with the music ramping up is very dreamlike and not in a good way.  Gives me a headache every time.

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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.

I have seen the film, but a viewer just exposed to this opening scene would get the impression that this film is about a mysterious woman. The music is trance like, almost like a snake charmer's tune. The viewer is taken deep into the woman's soul as we enter her eye and then the red is transposed over her eyes, which symbolizes passion. The music is very effective in the clip.

 

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

For me, the most powerful image is that first green spiral that appears, and almost looks like a staircase spiraling down.Viewers were not expecting that image,as it begins the computer generated part, so I think it catches them off guard and begins the trance like spell that she will cast overJames Stewart. Plus, it is the color green, which symbolizes jealousy and plays well into that article's theory from yesterday's additional notes. As Hitchcock is so well known for tying the opening and closing images of his films together, the green spiraling staircase will become a key element in this film and play a pivotal part in the ending. Knowing the ending of this film gives this choice some validity.

 

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

 

This music is pure brilliance. It captivates the audience and is very mysterious. It is the perfect balance of mystery and trance like spell. The images are wonderfully transposed and spinning, which when you recall, we entered her eye to get to them, so we are looking inside her soul. We see her as if she is casting a spell and very complicated, not one dimensional. The music and images help create an unforgettable opening to this film.

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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. 

a)    The abstract images and evocative musical score call to mind:
Falling, Mental Illness, Uneasiness, Tension, Mystery. At first blush, I would assume the film is about someone dealing with mental illness.

 

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

a)    The spinning spiral image – it is repeated numerous times; it is center screen; and the motion causes the perception of falling into its center.
 

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

a)    Bernard Herrmann is one of my favorite film score composers. The images, while cool, would  lack semiotic and emotive context without Herrmann’s score.

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Getting your juices flowing for a psychological thriller is what I get. The music ebbs and crescendoes, if I may butcher the terms a little. The swirling graphics, the eye images, real and created, really pop. Eye close-ups and the use of eyes to convey various emotions truly have a strong impact in film. Once again, we crave more of Hitchcock's storytelling in this title sequence. The score is so iconic. Whenever I hear it, I think Vertigo every time. And I get chills.

 

The woman's eye widening is the most powerful for me.  It conveys fear, alarm, surprise and more.   It actually makes me think of Psycho and other Hitchcock movies, too. It stays with me.

 

I feel that Herrmann's score is just perfect for the movie, and enhances Bass' images. Without the score, I don't think the images would work as well. Full orchestral music, well, it just fills out the film start to finish.  It hooks us.

 

 

 

 

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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 images and music together make me think of thoughts going round and round in my head. When a merry-go-round is going very fast, it's dangerous to jump off. I imagine that when the same set of thoughts are running around in someone's head, it can feel dangerous to try to get off the thought merry-go-round. I've experienced this in a very small way. It makes me feel like all the terrible thoughts are all there are. Of course once I stop the thought cycle, the solution to the problem presents itself. Throughout the opening credits the spirals never stop, the patterns and colors change but the circular motion of them never stop. It's an indication that our main character may never be able to escape those circular thought patterns. 

 

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

 

Okay, I know you are asking for only one image, but I have two. The first and strongest image are the pink and green spirals at the very beginning after the movie title. They look like galaxies to me, but also an eye, even though the center dead space is oval. The cosmos is always in motion, as are we. Sometimes we get stuck in that motion and can't stop to assess what's happening. The second is on the screen where the top credit is for Art Direction: Hal Pereira, that pattern looks like a yin/yang symbol. I find that very interesting since, Scottie thinks he's in love with Kim Novak's character.  Kim Novak's character, is in a kind of spiral herself having taken a job and then falling in love with Scottie so much so that she will do anything to please him. Unfortunately that leads to her death. 

 

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

 

Bernard Herrmann's music goes up in a scale and then it goes down, then it repeats that. Which musically is like going around and around, so it's perfect for the images Saul Bass has created. I can't imagine any other music fitting the images as well. So if Bernard Herrmann had come up with different music, or someone else had composed the title music, the audience would probably not have got that kind of dizzy feeling that the two together induce.

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Daily Dose #15

Daily Dose #15: Lissajous Figures
Title Design Sequence of Vertigo (1954)

 

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 very beginning, it is possible to conclude that the movie is going to be related with a woman and the fact that there is a special emphasis on his mouth and eyes, I connect that with the themes of love but also of a mistery or a lie. The lips of a person is always been for me a sign that there is something that they are not saying, keeping hidden or lying about. Then, when we can see her eyes which are trying to look to the side avoiding to be seen directly, I can confirm that suspicion. Later, the extreme close up of the eye and the following images of the spirals, makes me think about getting into someone's mind, a complicated, complex and confusing matter. However, in this case, I believe that this woman is hiding something complicated in her mind and by watching that or having contact with that, we end up really confused. Finally, the music and colors used (specially the red) set a thriller tone. 

 

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

In my opinion, the eye with the red color is the most powerful image. In the first place, because a picture of an eye (which conveys a lot emotionally) is very intense and the efect is increased with the extreme close up shot. In a certain way, the director is putting the audience really near to the emotions and thoughts of this character. The camera movement and the zoom which precede the image combined with the music makes the impact of the closeness even bigger. At the same time, the red color makes this distance threatning. The strenght of this picture consists in the inevitability of watching it, because the size of the shot doesn't allow us to see anything else (in a cinema, that eye should have been huge), the approach, the music and the apparition of the red color is so sudden that gives a great starting point for the next images of spirals and the rest of the movie.   

 

 

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 is no doubt that the entire sequence is supported not just for the image but also for the music. Along with the entrance to what it seems to be the woman's mind, it feels like the music is going to a deeper and looped journey as well. There are several changes that not only recognized as an ingredient to create a sense of mistery but inestability as well, so the patterns of the pictures and the score vary in an unexpected way.

 

Definitely, the sequence could have had a different interpretation if the music was other and thar remarks the importance and relevance (of which Hitchcock was always aware) of the combination of sound and image for narrative and evocative purposes.   

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I think from the opening sequence, it feels like a strange psychotic trip. Very dreamlike  and nightmarish too.

When  the up close  shot of the eye turns red and the spiral starts to spin in the iris of the eye.

The musical  score blends well with the image. The music seems to spin along with the spirals.

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1. To me it looks like the film will be about someone entering into the unknown. First we have an extreme close up and then we fall into the person through her eye. The spiraling rings look like the film is taking you into the abyss. The striking sound also takes us into a dark and foreboding place. The music is ominous. 

2. The most powerful image is the close up on the eye turning red. Red always seem to imply danger to me.

3. The image and score work together to give the impression that something bad is about to happen. The searching eyes, the spirals and the music work well together in putting the viewer in an uncertain frame of mind. 

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1. According to the images and sounds of this sequence, I would assume the film would be about a man suffering vertigo show his POV when it occurs and the dizziness he feels.

 

2. The most powerful image to me is when they do the close-up of the eye widening and the spiraling image inside the pupil, I believe this to convey the fact that when you suffer from vertigo you get really dizzy from things spinning in your head.

 

3. I think that the precise timing between.both musical score and the images is extraordinary and it  would be a sin to have any other musical score.  

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  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.

     

    This is a journey into the mind. We see Kim Novak's cheek, then mouth, then both eyes. They show concern and anxiety. Then, we focus on one eye. We see color. We get the spirals, that spin and move in and out. The music is in arpegios, punctuated by stronger notes.

     

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

     

    I think it is the single eye with the color. Everything before that is in black and white, including the Paramount logo. How we see things will be key to this film.

     

  3. 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 together brilliantly, with movement in the images and the music. It is possible that it would work with a different composer, like Jerry Goldsmith. Visually, it looks almost like a Bond intro, but Bass's visuals wouldn't really work with upbeat music.

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Further Reflections:  After watching the clip, please go to Twitter (#Hitchcock50) or the TCM Message Board (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.  (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.to continue your reflections on this clip. Here are a few discussion starters (though feel free to come up with your own):

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. 

To me, the opening credits indicate this a movie about some person who is mentally disturbed or at the very least under extreme pressure psychologically. To me this film is more a “Who is it?” or a “Who am I?” than a “Who dunnit?” This film is my least favorite of AH’s films. I don’t like the special effects in the credits. To me it looks cheap or dated. The musical score for the opening credits – ugh, ugh, ugh. Too predictable. I am convinced that some mid-century atonal orchestral works who have worked better. My apologies but I think this  is AH at a creative low and I am sorry – I cannot square Kim Novak with Jimmy Stewart. Yes, in 1955 she was a perfect visual match with William Holden but with Jimmy Stewart? (I was fine with Stewart and Grace Kelly in Rear Window – her utter celestial beauty offset his every-man look).

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

“Costumes by Edith Head.” "Nuff said." 

3.     How do Saul Bass’ images and Bernard Herrmann’s score work together? How different would this sequence be with a different musical score? Please see my answer to #1.

I apologize to any and all who may call me too snarky. I am a film enthusiast and not too bright but my instincts say this film’s opening credits should have been handled much differently. 

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  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. 

Based on the imagery and score, I would say it is a film about a dream or something experienced under a trance. Not a story based on facts but based on the twists and turns of a mind. Also, because the images keep rotating on and on, it would be a dream or a thought that kept repeating on and on. At times, I feel like I am seeing the vastness of the universe and little galaxies just rotating on and on in space - infinity I guess. Because the closeups of the woman's face is used to begin and end the sequence it would lead me to believe the dream was about a woman or a woman was a key character in the dream, or in the mind.

 

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

I think the first image which is pink is the strongest and because it is the first we see and it leads us into the trance or dream. Pink or red stand out, not necessarily the most soothing colors, but attention getting and memorable. 

 

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 way the images and music both seem to go round and round with the same notes and circular pattern mimic each other perfectly. The music is somewhat - like the images -  lulling us along and then it builds to a stronger ending. They combine to put us in a trance like mood. Do we believe what we are seeing? Are we hypnotized into accepting everything we will see or are we imagining this story ourselves? It's a very haunting combination.

A different score might overpower the imagery and the feeling of infinity - maybe give us more of a sense this is a horror movie. A softer score would be lost. 

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Every director/writer: Auteur, must come up with a fresh approach to exposition. Hitch incorporated sound & visual design to the utmost to start us on his story-telling journey. The lips, black & white, smash close-up on the bridge of the nose, but seemingly normal. The eye turns blood red, and the cymbals clash. VERTIGO is experienced hynotically by the spin of the fibrinacci patterns, inescapable, the basic pattern for everything, including Novak's ability to hypnotize Scottie and transfer her neurosis to him. Without prior knowledge of this wide-acclaimed film, my supposition is that a wacky "I" becomes paramount to Alfred Hitchcock's camera's eye and zooms out to us like a laser beam.

Most powerful image is the eye, the waffling from eye to pattern to eye to universe visual still comes back to the eye.

If there was a different collaboration of graphics to sound, let's say Dub-step, we could be introduced to a separate genre, we'll say, comedy, just sayin'.

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