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Monday, June 20, 2011

To be or not to be

I watched the old classic Vertigo last night. Some say this psychological thriller produced in 1958 is Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece because of the special effects of the movie. Let’s explore that concept.

Set in the almost dream-like haze of the empty San Francisco streets, Vertigo portrays obsession and lost romance through surrealism, a true hallmark of the master’s movies. In this story, Scotty (Jimmy Stewart) pursues Madeline (Kim Novak) as she slips in and out of her dead great grandmother’s persona. So even back then, there was a touch of paranormal in the books Alfred Hitchcock wrote

This movie is most definitely the type one may watch again and again and still miss things. Some of the props that are essential to the storyline are flowers, a painting and necklace. Although the  plot of the movie is a brilliantly planned murder, it’s all about obsession.

Scotty is obsessed with Madeline, who is seemingly obsessed with a dead woman,  and follows  her around the streets of San Francisco. Midge (Barbara Bel Gettes), an ex-girlfriend, in love with Scotty and obsessed with getting him back, follows him around as he pursues Madeline.

Alfred Hitchcock used a 3-D effect twice in this film. First in the opening scene to illustrate Scotty’s fear of heights when on a rooftop during a police chase. By using a special zoom  feature on the camera lens, perspective distortion  is achieved through trick photography.
This movie does not have a happily ever after ending, but one that is quite chilling and will leave one a bit unsettled. What are your thoughts on this? As we all know, sadly, real life does not always have a fairy tale ending. Is this essential to you when reading a book or do you prefer reading a book where the  hero and heroine, for whatever reasons, do not ride off into the sunset?


Hywela Lyn said...

Interesting question Sharon, dear friend.

I used to LOVE stories with sad endings, (as long as it didn't involve an animal gettng killed or hurt) There's something about sitting there in floods of tears muttering 'What a lovely film - I did enjoy that.'

I did enjoy Vertigo very much and as you say one can watch it again and again and still spot things one missed.

Of course as Romance writers we're supposed to give the hero and heroie a 'h.e.a.' but then we have to torture them unmercifully before they get their reward at the end.

Ooh the power!

Julianne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vonnie Davis said...

HEA endings? Ah, a bone of contention in our house. One romance writer who loves all ends tied up in a neat bow at book's end. One mainstream writer who loves pain and angst with a propensity for killing off the female in his books. I'll stick with the happy endings--PLEASE.

harshadpassion said...

To me, I'm really okay with books that don't have a H.E.A. I enjoy the ones that have profound endings more often than not. It doesn't have to end happily. Cold Mountain? Awesome movie, awesome book. Wouldn't have been the same without that ending.

In fact, I know I'm going to shock some people for saying this, but if the HEA/HFN "married/soon to be married with children ending" isn't always necessary. I've read far too many romance novels where it's just shoved in, and the whole story dies right there for me. I just have to wonder why we're so stuck on HEA's that we destroy our stories for it. Because to me, when they do that the whole book falls flat. :(

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi Sharon,
when I read outside the romance genre, I don't expect a happy ending. Though, I do expect a mystery to be solved if it's a mystery, or the killer to be caught in the Suspense genre etc. Literary fiction has let me down on countless occasions with lame endings or with me thumbing through thinking, this is it?
I like an ending that FINISHES the story not one that leaves me dangling, unless it is a series. Women's fiction often doesn't have a HEA, and because I know it's part of the genre I can deal with it, but I do need closure to stories. Some kind of closure.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Lyn, dear friend, the power of the author indeed. For me, sometimes a hee is just not in the cards and tears of sorrow cleanse the soul. I guess that's why I write both romance and mainstream.

Sharon Donovan said...

Vonnie, sounds like you have the best of both worlds to keep things interesting.

Sharon Donovan said...

Harshadpassion, I totally agree that Vertigo would not be the same with a different ending. It sure looked that way for a fleeting second, but Jimmy Stewart stood his ground and rid his obsession with the mysterious Madeline. Three cheers

Sharon Donovan said...

Excellent synopsis, Lynne. The bottom line of any story is CLOSURE. Nothing is worse than a page turner and then...boom...disappointing ending Sometimes, like in real life, couples are not meant to stay together until death. I prefer they go their separate ways opposed to a bubble of bliss that is far too fictional.

Lynne Marshall said...

Hi again, Sharon,
regarding your last comment.
That's why we have reunion stories, right?
I love reunion stories! Get those people back together who maybe should never have parted.
(I know in reality many people should never ever get back together, but we're dealing with fiction, right?)
I enjoy your blogs.

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks so much, Lynne. I appreciate it. Oh, yes reunion stories are also great, especially the soggas that span over a long period of time, often giving one or both parties time apart to grow and mature. Now if only this were true in real life. LOL

Cara Marsi said...

I agree with a lot of comments. When I read a romance, I expect a HEA. When I read other books, I don't, but it's nice when that happens. As someone else said, I do expect closure no matter what type book. I've read books that left me hanging. When that happens, I feel I've been cheated. I've also been very disappointed by so-called "literary" books that leave me empty.

BTW-I love Vertigo. I love most of Hitchcock's movies.

And Sharon I'm reading Charade of Hearts now and loving it.

Debra St. John said...

Hi Sharon,

I have to say, I do like a happily ever after. I think part of the reason is that real life doesn't always have a fairy tale ending, and when I'm reading a book as an escape, I want something to disract me from real life, not remind me of it.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Cara, so happy you are enjoying Charade of Hearts. I'll be most interested in your reaction to the ending. Yes, closure is key and isn't it a horrible let down to be cheated out of a good ending. I love Vertigo too. I hope you tried your luck on the contest in the post before this one. It goes until August 13th, the master's birthday. Prize is a collector's edition VERTIGO DVD

Sharon Donovan said...

Debra, I think we all love to escape to a place where we can make the world go away. For me, this works if not too sugary sweet. But there are times where I like a shock ending, one that leaves me saying WOW.