Study Guide

Vertigo The Supernatural

The Supernatural

Although it was marketed as a tale of the supernatural, Vertigo's only that in a superficial sense. That's because the ghosts all turn out to be created by characters' deliberate playacting. All the supernatural beings haunting poor Scottie are in fact figures who've been created for a murderous reason.

Madeleine channels the ghost of Carlotta Valdes so convincingly—and so beautifully—that Scottie comes to believe in her story. He's worse off for being so gullible, and Vertigo is, in the end, a cautionary tale about reality rather than a ghost story.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. What makes Carlotta Valdes a good choice of "ghost" for Elster? What makes her story compelling?
  2. Vertigo's working title was originally From Among the Dead. In what ways would this title have suited the film? Which title do you prefer?
  3. What cinematic techniques does Hitchcock use to convey ghostliness or otherworldliness?

Chew on This

One lesson from the film: green camera filters make everything scarier.

Although Vertigo's ghost story is a sham, the film shows the psychological power that the dead can wield over the living.

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