Color in Vertigo
When I watch movies today it seems that color is just there to tint the entire frame. Either blue, orange, or green, but I think it can be much more than that. Color can represent emotion, either metaphorically or literally. One movie that uses color, masterfully, is Alfred Hitchcock’s, Vertigo. Our protagonist, Scottie is a police detective for the LAPD, and we open up to a roof chase where he is running after someone. However, during the chase one of his colleagues falls off a roof to his death. Scottie, witnessing all of this gets shock trauma and becomes scared of heights, so he has to retire from his job. Later when Scottie is talking to his ex-fiancee, Midge, we see that her color is yellow and Scottie’s color is red. Therefore, her shirt, appartment, and all the furniture that she touches is yellow. Whereas, Scottie is constantly surrounded by reds.
Later on Scottie receives a call from one of his colleague’s acquaintances, Gavin, who asks Scottie to follow his wife, “There’s a special favour for me. I want you to follow my wife.”. He tells Scottie that his wife, Madeleine, is possessed by the past. Scottie reluctantly agrees to help, and so he starts spying on Madeleine. He goes to a restaurant and in this scene we first see Gavin’s wife, Madeleine. She is wearing a powerful green dress that makes her stand out vividly from everyone else in the room. Hitchcock plays with color so well that when she walks forward, and we get our first close up shot of her face, it is silhouetted to the intense red walls, making a beautiful contrast between her loud green dress and the deep red walls. This moment is foreshadows the crazy love they will soon fall into.[footnoteRef:0] [0: Get it?]
Scottie continues to follow Madeleine around in his automobile. During these scenes we see that Madeleine drives a green car. Madeleine then drives to a cemetery. During the cemetery scene the camera, plus the editing, gives this scene of a ghostly atmosphere, and even the sunlight has a green tint to it. The grave that Madeleine looks at belongs to Carlotta Valdes, a woman that died in 1857. Scottie later finds out that Carlotta Valdes is Madeleine’s great-grandmother, and that Carlotta died of suicide. Scottie deduces that Madeleine must be possessed by Carlotta. Therefore it would explain why she dresses and behaves just like Carlotta.
The next day Madeleine drives to a spot under the Golden Gate Bridge. We see that she is dress like Carlotta and has the same bocay as the one in Carlotta portrait. We also see the red bridge going across the green water. Again our character's colors are ever present. Madeleine walks for a bit along the water, then without hesitation she jumps into the bay trying to commit suicide. Scottie observing her actions rushes to save her out of the water. Once saving her he brings her to his apartment. In front of the apartment is Madeleine’s green car, and Scotties door is completely red...