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Vertigo (1958)

Bernard Herrmann 

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This is why I'm a soundtrack collector.
filmfactsman (December 17, 2005)
Whoever said "slow movies" had to mean "boring"? At its best, an unhurried tempo is something to luxuriate in. It can lead us to a quieter age, mimic our contemporary ennui, even take us into the world of dreams. I think of "Vertigo" as part hallucination, part bubble bath. To say that this movie is about a man with fear of heights is like saying "Psycho" is about a motel with 24 hour room service. For James Stewart, the retired San Francisco cop, acrophobia is really the fear of life itself. "Vertigo" is a meditation on the idea of plunging, which is exactly what Stewart must do when he "falls" for Kim Novak, the mysterious woman he has been hired to follow. Is Novak really the reincarnation of her great-grandmother? Competing with Novak is Barbara Bel Gettes, as an authentic blonde who pales next to Novak's manufactured glamour. As an actress, Novak never exuded self-assurance, making her the perfect pawn for this Hitchcock exercise in sexual melodrama, and Bernard Herrmann's score is as haunting as Novak's performance. The Mercury original soundtrack LP released in 1958 contained only 34 minutes of music. This stunning restored edition conducted by Muir Mathieson presents the most complete collection of the score, and a booklet full of detailed information about each piece of music. During the listening of the album you will be hooked in a musical web of mystery, hypnosis and murder. Herrmann captured all the essence of Hitchcock's macabre masterpiece and translated into musical motifs of the characters, not only complimenting the action of the film, but also giving life and soul to the music. The score is like a long and deep sigh, an anguish between reality and fantasy, love and hate, life and death. It is art, in the most powerful sense of the word. The film itself is about terror, lust and (above all) mystery. Hitchcock buffs celebrate the movie for its thematic dimensions, yet what really puts "Vertigo" over is that the entire film seems to unfold in a trance state. It's as if Hitchcock slowed down the mechanics of his earlier films, peeked through the cracks, and seen the abyss.

Best score ever
Greg Philip (November 4, 2004)
This is my favorite score. It's hard to decide which cue is the most haunting...
A good part of the score was originally recorded in monoraul sound in London and Vienna due to a strike of American (and later British) musicians. Also, some cues have been quite damaged by time (The park) to the point that they were not useable anymore (The Graveyard). Varese released the original soundtrack with all the major stereo cues and some in mono.
Herrmann reportedly complained about Mathieson's work as a conductor. He recorded parts of the score for later releases and his superiority is indeed obvious (in the Prelude for instance).
However, despite technical and artistic problems, the original soundtrack is still the one you want to hear.
Look for the DVD if you want a complete experience.

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