The scene in nutshell…

The scene begins with a man and woman kissing. We get a glimpse of the woman’s eye, and we can tell instantly: she has another agenda to accomplish. The man says: `I love you`, which is quite a heavy sentence! Not in this case. Surprisingly she responds straight away: `I love you too.` and continues with the same tone: `Too late. Too late.` The man gives so much love and safety but his efforts seem useless: she has an other mission to accomplish.

She has an urgency and anxiety about her.



She walks away from him hurriedly. He follows her takes hold of her again. After a minor struggle;

“Look it’s not fair, it’s too late, it wasn’t supposed to happen this way, it shouldn’t have happened…”

He then proclaims his love for her and she settles down, but she still wants to go to the church. He does not understand why, but he lets her go (a church has no harm).

She walks towards the church, pauses, looks up and then unexpectedly she starts to run towards it. As he watches her go, he glances up at the Church’s bell tower. A look of worry and dread comes over his face as he rushes after her. The next part of the scene sees the man enter the church glancing around looking for which way the woman went. He then pursues the woman up the winding stairs of the tower.


As he goes up the stairs he peers down the over the banisters. We get a “zoom in and track out” shot of the winding stairs and the height the man is climbing to. We see two of these as he climbs higher and higher. The higher he goes we see the man suffer more from fear or anxiety, to a point where he can’t climb anymore. It’s at this moment we hear a shriek and out of the window we see thew woman’s body falling from above. The man looks out and we see her dead body on the tiling of a lower roof. The man then appears to be having an inner moment of shock, grief, compunction, worry. He looks out again to see two nuns walking hurriedly on the road coming towards the church. He has an inner realization of guilt and fear.


He starts to slowly make his way back down the winding stairs. We then see a group of people arriving via a ladder onto the part of the roof where the woman fell. We then get an angled bird’s-eye view of the church (looking massive) and on one side we see the men on the roof retrieving the body and on the other side we see the man exit the church at ground level, fleeing from the scene.

Vertigo is also important to me – essential would be more like it – because it has a hero driven purely by obsession. I’ve always been attracted in my own work to heroes motivated by obsession, and on that level Vertigo strikes a deep chord in me every time I see it. Morality, decency, kindness, intelligence, wisdom – all the qualities that we think heroes are supposed to possess – desert James Stewart‘s character little by little, until he is left alone on that church tower with the bells tolling behind him and nothing to show but his humanity.

Martin Scorsese

Humble Opinion by Annamaria Berentz:

I have to admit: the start of the scene is every girls dream… A handsome man says: `I love you`, `We are together`, `You are safe with me`, `We are in love and that`s what counts!`, and he can not stop hugging and kissing…

In real life to hear these sentences from a man (especially a handsome one, not to mention the hugs and kisses) takes  45 years, not 45 seconds!!!

What Kim Novak does is not just a little bit suspicious… First she says `I love you too.`, then totally ignores all the love and reassurance from Jimmy Stewart’s character. Later, she commits suicide. My detective’s mind said to me: this lady must have a dirty secret. For me it is not a logical step. As Martin Scorsese said about James Stewart`s humanity, that was what was missing from Kim Novak`s side.

When you watch the film, of course the puzzle showed the final picture…

Questions arising:

1. What is vertigo? (Can this illness really stop true love?)

2. Why is it `too late`?

3. What is “zoom in track out”?


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