“Vertigo” by Alfred Hitchcock Essay (Movie Review)

January 29, 2022 by Essay Writer


The word vertigo refers to a medical condition that is characterized by lack of a balance in an individual’s body system. A person with vertigo experiences some form of unsteadiness. The person feels a spinning or whirling movement. This feeling occurs when the person is stationary. A common symptom of a person with vertigo is dizziness. The movie title Vertigo indicates the condition suffered by the protagonist John Scottie.

John Scottie was a former police officer. In one of the operations, he happened to chase a suspect on a rooftop together with his colleague. The experience was traumatizing and caused him discomfort after running on the high height up the rooftop. He developed acrophobia which is some extreme fear of heights. His colleague died in the operation of chasing the suspect. The movie, Vertigo, by Alfred Hitchcock is characterized by twists and turns of events.

This could have been indicated by the spirals and swirls that appear at the top cover of the movie. This is illustrated by Scottie’s deep possession for Madeleine. After the tragic death of Madeleine, he searched for his lost love by trying to recreate it. In the process, he discovered that Madeleine’s death had been a hoax. When he tried to relive the traumatic incident that had led to Madeleine’s “death”, her real death occurred.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the moral of the story in the movie Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock. A look at love, trust, understanding, irony and real life experiences are some of the highlights that review the movie Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock.

The role of beliefs in the society

Every person is entitled to some form of belief. Beliefs control a person’s behavior. They guide the actions that any particular person is likely to undertake. They are the foundation towards a person’s way of life and his attitudes. Gavin Elster believed that people can be possessed by spirits of the dead.

When his wife started to portray questionable behavior, he began to believe that she had been possessed by the spirit of Carlota Valdes. By hiring John Scottie to investigate his wife’s actions, it was a clear indication that he had related all that the wife had done to the possession of an evil spirit. Madeleine’s actions like laying a wreath on Carlota’s grave and visiting the museum to watch Carlota’s portrait confirmed her husband’s fears.


The movie illustrated a tragic love story. After John Scotties resigned from the police force, he decided to concentrate on his former fiancée. When Gavin hired him as a private detective for his wife Madeleine, Scotties fell in love with the wife of Gavin. After the death of Madeleine, Scotties met Judy who resembled Madeleine and fell in love with her too. Love is natural and plays a significant role in a person’s life.

Love offers companionship. When nurtured with integrity and trust, it brings fulfillment. It is important to limit love and create some boundaries for it may end up ruining other activities which could also be important like careers. From the movie, Scottie was obsessed with love for Madeleine. He did not accomplish his mission as a detective because of love.

Self control and maturity should be exercised in relationships. Love cares for one another. Additionally, love deserves mutual respect between those involved in it. When Madeleine wanted to commit suicide by jumping into the ocean, Scottie saved her. This is an indication of true love and care. On the other hand Madeleine may have felt disrespected after that incidence for she woke up to find herself nude.

This could have caused the tension that followed thereafter. After the death of Madeleine, John Scottie went to an extent of recreating Judy to fit his perception of Madeleine. It is an indication that he had not accepted that his love for Madeleine had been disrupted by her death. Love has boundaries. Love that is exercised beyond certain societal and religious boundaries is considered immoral. The love between Madeleine and Scottie was immoral. Madeleine was married to Gavin and John Scottie also had a fiancée.

Trust and understanding

Several incidents in the movie portray lack of trust for one another. Gavin’s family lacked trust for one another. If proper communication existed in the family, he could have tried to find out the problem that had been affecting his wife before employing a detective.

Employing a detective signified lack of trust for his wife. Judy on the other hand knew very well that she was the “real Madeleine”. She knew that she was cheating Scottie. At one time she wanted to disclose the truth. She wrote a note stating the facts intending to give it to Scottie but later changed her mind and did not give the note to him.

Deceit may not last forever. Scottie sported jewelry from Judy. He recognized it as Madeleine’s. He discovered that Judy’s personality was a hoax and she was the real Madeleine. This also illustrated confusion in the love story and in John’s life for he was not able to distinguish between reality and dream.


Scottie forced Madeleine’s character in to Judy’s. He wanted the latter’s speech to be similar to Madeleine’s. He bought her clothes similar to Madeleine’s. Judy changed her hair style to blonde so that it appeared similar to Madeleine’s. Judy acted all that with full knowledge that she was the real Madeleine.

Real life experience

With the challenges encountered in real life today, many people find themselves in similar situations like the ones experienced by John Scottie. Some difficult situations may arise in one’s job making him to quit. The person may find himself constantly in difficult situations and possibly due to frustrations, he may find himself relating to people he may have loathed before.

Scottie found himself rejuvenating his former love with his no nonsense fiancée. Scottie ended up acquiring the same belief that Gavin had acquired regarding possession of an evil spirit. Many people end up moving from one love relationship to the other just as Scottie did. This may end up making life more complex. Scottie went down into depression because of frustrations of love.

This is also a reality today. Most depression cases are usually as a result of complications in love affairs. Others may completely change their way of live because of love. This is well exhibited by the character of Judy in the movie Vertigo. Some moral and immoral love affairs end up tragically. In cases of infidelity, the aggrieved partner may end up harming the other. Some end up committing suicide. An example of a love affair that ended up tragically was the case of Princess Diana of Wales in August, 1998.


It is important to deal with all forms of fear. People can take advantage of another person if they realize that he or she lives in fear. Gavin had realized that Scottie had acrophobia and decided to use him to conceal his wife’s murder by feigning Madeleine’s suicide. People who live in fear may have the strength to get out of it. Scottie illustrated this by conquering his acrophobia when he went up to the tower to relive Madeleine’s death.

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