A Warning to All Bachelors
When I was a little kid, it wasn’t cool to watch R-rated movies. We did as much as we could, nonetheless, but it was pretty limited. We’re talking about the days when you still had very few channels and to rent a movie you had to show a passport, ID, birth certificate, and offer a blood sample.
So kids. Count your lucky stars.
But still. I think most parents assumed that old movies were totally kosher. Go ahead, that was made in the 50s, 60s, 70’s, you know, when they made movies for the whole family to enjoy.
So I grew up watching a lot of old movies. Jimmy Stewart was my favorite actor. He was in so many great flicks…well, I’m an obvious geek so I won’t persist.
But is there a movie more messed up than Vertigo? I’ve seen it twenty times, probably, and each time I feel like I’ve been given a bad dose of LSD.
I mean that in the greatest way. Sometimes it’s great to feel uncomfortable. You hear that all the time. “You should get out of your comfort zone.” Well, if you haven’t seen it or it’s been years, strap in. It’s wonderfully disturbing.
The plot is completely brilliant, and utterly gutting. And you know it’s coming. It’s Hitchcock—you know something’s not right, but he outdoes himself anyway.
So you could study this thing for a variety of reasons; plot, acting, pacing, cinematography, weird make-out sessions, etc.
I’ll focus on the plot and the lessons to be learned from the story itself. In the first scene we meet our protagonist and his problem. Yep-vertigo. Dude’s just gone through a real crazy ass trauma and now he’s afraid of heights. So they give him a cane. He retires from the force, the long set-up scenes are actually sort of bright and hopeful. It can’t be all melancholia. Unless you’re referring to the movie Melancholia.
Okay. So basically our main man falls hopelessly in love with the woman he’s been enlisted to follow by an old “friend.” She’s apparently possessed with the spirit of her suicidal great-grandmother, and she’s on a collision course to kill herself.
He’s skeptical, like the viewer, but then again, something’s not right.
So he’s in love. Granted, she’s a total old movie hottie, the kind that talks with a semi-British accent for no apparent reason. Hell, following her around all day, I’d fall in love with her too.
Anyway she kills herself…or does she? See, it just gets weirder and weirder from there, and even though I’ve seen it before, it’s hard to get my mind around how sick some of these characters are. The only spoiler I’ll really throw out is that the main dude becomes as messed up as the rest. He’s a victim, he’s guilty, he’s innocent—the whole deal. A real twisted tragedy. It’s super messed up. Everyone that’s good is an obsessed weirdo. Everyone that’s bad is detached and duplicitous.
I take two main things away from Vertigo. It’s not an entertainment as much as it is a lesson. Don’t get all hung up on the past. The present is enough to contend with. And don’t stay a bachelor for too long. This whole sordid business could’ve been avoided if the main character had a wife and some kids to worry about. He only falls for this caper because of the power of…well…in polite terms, he wants to get some. See you after.