Composition Of "Vertigo"

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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When making a good film, many key elements such as lighting, color, editing, visual design and sound, come into play. Another very important element is composition which refers to how subjects are arranged in relation to each other and to the sides of the frame. Framing, mise-en-scene or staging, and photographing all play a significant role in the composition of films, thus creating a desired meaning of the film creator. Through the unique composition of the Alfred Hitchcock film, Vertigo, the audience is able to gain a deeper understanding of what is happening without it being directly presented to them through the characters actions or dialogue.

In this suspenseful film, every frame, line and scene is filled with meaning from beginning to end. The names of the director and the two leads appear in front of an extreme close-up of a woman's face and the rest of the cast and crew are listed while spirals rush towards the audience.

Because of this approach, the audience knows that this woman known as both Judy Barton and Madeline, played by Kim Novak, is going to be of great importance throughout the entire film. The credits are followed by a rooftop chase in which Scottie, played by James Stewart, comes close to death when he does not quite make a jump from one roof to another and is left dangling on the side. Scottie's vertigo is revealed through a point-of-view shot in which the camera zooms in and out from the roof creating a sense of extreme height and fear of falling. The vertigo that Scottie is afflicted with and the visual representations of falling by the very high angle shots at key points throughout the film, helps the audience to understand the happenings that are to follow. For example, when he first...