Pic of the Day – The Posters of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958)
A collection of original release art from around the globe for Alfred Hitchcock’s classic tale of obsession, Vertigo (1958). All of these come from the website of Heritage Auctions, which currently has the Belgian beauty at the top of the page up for bid through July 5th.
Vertigo popularized the “dolly/zoom” effect in which, typically, foreground objects retain their size while the background perspective shifts. Here’s Alfred Hitchcock on the technique’s origins, from his 1966 book-length interview with filmmaker Francois Truffaut titled Hitchcock/Truffaut.
“When Joan Fontaine fainted at the inquest in Rebecca, I wanted to show how she felt that everything was moving far away from her before she toppled over. I always remember one night at the Chelsea Arts Ball at Albert Hall in London when I got terribly drunk and I had the sensation that everything was going far away from me. I tried to get that into Rebecca, but they couldn’t do it. The viewpoint must be fixed, you see, while the perspective is changed as it stretches lengthwise. I thought about the problem for fifteen years. By the time we got to Vertigo, we solved it by using the dolly and zoom simultaneously. I asked how much it would cost, and they told me it would cost fifty thousand dollars. When I asked why, they said, “Because to put the camera at the top of the stairs we have to have a big apparatus to lift it, counterweight it, and hold it up in space.” I said, “There are no characters in this scene; it’s simply a viewpoint. Why can’t we make a miniature of the stairway and lay it on its side, then take our shot by pulling away from it? We can use a tracking shot and a zoom flat on the ground.” So that’s the way we did it, and it only cost us nineteen thousand dollars.”
Here’s a montage of famous “dolly/zooms.”
Also, here’s a storyboard-to-film comparison for one of Vertigo’s set pieces.