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Psychological Music in Vertigo

by Paul Cote

Herrmann's music for this pivotal scene in Hitchcock's Vertigo is the thematic cumulation of the love theme that has been developing throughout the entire picture.  What much of what makes the music so compelling is that it is as ambiguous as it is passionate.  Though Herrmann typically writes music to represent character's interior emotions, here he is faced with a character who's interior emotions are so convoluted and damaged that no clear response is possible.  His passionate love theme juxtaposed against this unnerving love scene prompts us to question its meaning.  Is the romantic music indication that Scottie genuinely loves Madeline, or does the music only represent the false love that Scottie is trying to convince himself he feels?  

Vertigo - Scene D'Amour

Herrmann's musical consummation in Vertigo.

from Vertigo (1958)
Creator: Alfred Hitchcock
Distributor: Universal
Posted by Paul Cote