Question about the twist in Vertigo (1958).

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SPOILER

I was wondering, why did Hitchcock choose to reveal the twist earlier on, as oppose to saving it for when the main character discovered it, compared to letting the audience know quite a bit beforehand, and the main character then has to catch up.

Not that this was a bad decision at all, just wondering why the director or producers chose to reveal it before the main character found out.



SPOILER

I was wondering, why did Hitchcock choose to reveal the twist earlier on, as oppose to saving it for when the main character discovered it, compared to letting the audience know quite a bit beforehand, and the main character then has to catch up.

Not that this was a bad decision at all, just wondering why the director or producers chose to reveal it before the main character found out.
Interesting question; and it points to a device Hitchcock used very successfully in Vertigo, as well as several other of his films: he lets the audience in on the secret so that it will build suspense. Inducing suspense was one of Hitchcock's main aims.

Here is a pertinent quote from him about the subject in this particular film: "... But now we give the public the truth about the hoax so that our suspense will hinge around the question of how Stewart is going to react when he discovers that Judy and Madeleine are actually the same person."

In other words the suspense shifts from the wonder of who Judy is, to how Scotty will take it when he finds out. Hitchcock puts the audience in between what they know to be true and the outcome between Scotty and Judy. That's suspenseful. To me it also magnified the tragedy of the ending.

~Doc



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I guess so, but other movies don't use this device of building suspense with the audience knowing way ahead of the main character, because the filmmakers feel that being surprised at the same time as the main character is more important.

In Oldboy for example, they could have revealed the surprise long before the main character finds out, so that the audience will be on the edge of their seat waiting for him to find out. Why didn't they do it for Oldboy?

Or in The Sixth Sense they could have revealed the surprise long in advance to build that same kind of suspense, why didn't they. Or they could have in The Crying Game, etc. So why don't other movies do it to build that kind of suspense then?



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Vertigo isn't most movies, though. You look at each individual movie on its own terms and determine whether revealing certain plot points to the audience and/or characters at certain points in time makes the most sense for the narrative. GulfportDoc here outlined why the early reveal in Vertigo makes sense in terms of the overall narrative - because it's for the audience's benefit more so than for the protagonist's benefit, whereas the biggest twists from both Oldboy and The Sixth Sense are meant to surprise the protagonist and audience equally (and you could argue that Oldboy also uses an early reveal in having Dae-su meet the man who had him locked up halfway through, but then the real suspense comes from him trying to figure out the reason why instead of just killing the man immediately).

It's the classic Hitchcock bomb-under-the-table gambit - there's more suspense in showing the audience the bomb and making them wonder if the characters will escape in time than in simply having the bomb explode without any warning.
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Yep that makes sense, very true. Good points .



I guess so, but other movies don't use this device of building suspense with the audience knowing way ahead of the main character, because the filmmakers feel that being surprised at the same time as the main character is more important.

In Oldboy for example, they could have revealed the surprise long before the main character finds out, so that the audience will be on the edge of their seat waiting for him to find out. Why didn't they do it for Oldboy?

Or in The Sixth Sense they could have revealed the surprise long in advance to build that same kind of suspense, why didn't they. Or they could have in The Crying Game, etc. So why don't other movies do it to build that kind of suspense then?
As mentioned there is a difference between an unexpected twist and suspense but also I would argue it comes down to the nature of the characters and story your telling. For the story Hitchcock was telling with Vertigo I think the early reveal makes sense because it allows him to build weight to Judy/Madeleine's character.

I'd say Vertigo is really a story of guilt but the climax of the film I'd say switches it purely from Scotty feeling it to Judy, we need the reveal to have this built up.



I think it's interesting that Hitchcock believed that Scotty was indulging in a form of necrophilia: that he wanted to make love to a dead woman. I never thought of it that way, but of course Hitch was right. Pretty strong stuff for 1958.

~Doc



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I don't think it's a form of necrophila and was bold though, was it? I'm sure that if most guys were in love with a woman, and then she died, that they would want to bring her if they could, wouldn't they?