One day about eight years ago, I walked out of a Target store and the earth started moving. The ground became a giant balance board, sliding back and forth on top of a ball. I had never had vertigo before and have only had one attack since. I had gone shopping by myself so the only account I have of what happened is my own, which could be inaccurate. I couldn’t move for what seemed like a minute or two, but was probably a few seconds. I thought I was screaming for help but no one stopped, either because I wasn’t screaming or I seemed insane.
I finally made it to the side of the building and leaned on it for a few minutes before stumbling into the help desk to ask for water. I think I may have sat down on the floor, maybe I was standing. I was definitely crying and desperate.
I recovered eventually and drove home safely, but that moment of vertigo is burned in my memory as one of the scariest, loneliest, and most out of control moments of my life.
I had seen Vertigo before this happened and had loved it, but after experiencing vertigo myself, I had a whole new appreciation for the film. The dolly zoom that Hitchcock made famous in Vertigo is a remarkable depiction of what vertigo does. Vertigo continually shifts your visual perspective, making it impossible to see things accurately. This film, for me, explores loss of control and loss of perspective better than any film that came before or after.
Watching Scottie fall into his obsession with Madeleine, and subsequently turn Judy into her, is creepy. I feel sorry for Judy when I watch the film, but there is also a part of me that wants Scottie to succeed in completely transforming her. I shouldn’t want to see this. I should want Judy to run away and be safe. But I still want Scottie to win, I still sympathize with him even in his most horrible moments and I think that was Hitchcock’s plan all along. I want to see Scotty succeed because then order succeeds, control over chaos succeeds, and the ground might possibly stop moving.