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Vertigo (1958)
John “Scottie” Ferguson - James Stewart
Madeleine Elster/Judy Barton - Kim Novak
Midge Wood - Barbara Bel Geddes
Gavin Elster - Tom Helmore
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Film score by Bernard Herrmann
With bonus features and commentaries
Main Feature: Video: 1.85.1 wide-screen; Audio (English) DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
UNIVERSAL 8295831 [film: 128:00; bonus features: 106:00]

The respected magazine Sight and Sound recently declared that Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo is the best film of all time superseding Citizen Kane the earlier choice. Together with the release of this new Blu-Ray, high definition sound and vision version, it gives us the opportunity, as if we ever needed one, of appreciating Bernard Herrmann’s magnificent masterpiece score once again.
 
The enhanced Blu-Ray visuals are spectacularly beautiful. The misty panoramic dusk shots of San Francisco and those of Carlotta’s graveyard lend a ghostly dream-like atmosphere to this extravagant romantic thriller. You can say the same of the colours of Kim Novak’s costumes, her greys and blacks and greens hinting at so much of her unfolding and unstoppable tragedy. The effect is further intensified by those unsettling spectral greens cast by the hotel lighting as Judy Barton transforms herself into Madeleine Elster. That scene is quite unforgettable because Bernard Herrmann’s music makes it so - he produces that extraordinarily haunting long-breathed melody. This was unusual for him since he was not remembered for melodic or lyrical tendencies. This music, so full of yearning, is close to that of Tristan und Isolde. Other parts of the score, the tense, unsettling, swirling figures, brilliantly orchestrated, underline Scottie’s acrophobia. The enhanced sound adds even more drama and every little nuance of Herrmann’s music is revealed adding so much more to the enjoyment and appreciation of this classic.
 
The bonus features include a documentary on the painstaking and meticulous restoration of the sound and visuals of the original 1958 VistaVision production. We are also treated to details of the Vertigo contributions of Saul Bass (titles and nightmare graphics) and his ground-breaking visuals for other Hitchcock thrillers including Psycho, Edith Head’s alluring costumes, Hitchcock’s wife’s contributions and the Herrmann’s work on this and so many other of the director’s films. Another interesting bonus is the added alternative ending, prepared to address foreign censorship difficulties, in which Gavin Elster is brought to book.
 
Even if you already have a DVD of this masterpiece, acquire this enhanced version.
 
Ian Lace 

Note: at time of publication, the price for this region-free Blu-ray disc was £9.29 at Amazon UK, and $71.74 at Amazon US. Hence, only a sales link to the UK store has been provided.

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