Vertigo remake? Say it isn’t so…

vertigo2I thought at first that it was merely clickbait; I’m always getting suckered by Google into reading articles that are 90% fancy with a few breadcrumbs of fact. But it’s actually true- Paramount are in talks with Robert Downey Jr and writer/producer Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders) regards a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Vertigo. I don’t think I’ll ever read anything else so surprising (and horrifying) all year.  I thought Hollywood couldn’t sink any lower but there you go, it always seems to manage to dig into fresh abysses in its greed for a fresh buck.

Vertigo wasn’t even a success when it came out. It disappeared for years. It didn’t make money then so why would you think it would now? If its not about making money, then what is it? Surely there’s no artistic reason to be remaking Vertigo. It’d be like remaking Citizen Kane or Casablanca or  Gone with the Wind (well, the latter would be so problematic I’d be curious to see them try). These are what film enthusiasts consider to be the genuine, gilt-edged classics, one-of-a-kinds, and surely immune from the horrible Hollywood preoccupation with remakes and reboots and sequels and prequels. Well, so we thought, but if Vertigo is now considered fair game then all bets are off.

Forgive me a stupid question, but has Hollywood no class, no style, no shame? Surely some things are sacred, even in Tinseltown. What director would dare? What actress?  Vertigo is almost less a film and more a work of art. Its beautiful to look at, beautiful to hear, its of its Time and Place and really utterly alien to 2023, so much so that I can imagine modern audiences watching it today even being repulsed by it. I suppose one could argue it has already been remade (Brian De Palma’s Obsession from 1976) but that film didn’t call itself Vertigo, or feature the same characters, it just continued De Palma’s fascination with riffing on Hitchcock as if working out some mental anxiety all his own. No, this thing if it ever gets made is going to call itself Vertigo and somehow tell a story about a damaged man who abuses a woman in a world which has changed so much its surely impossible to purposefully tell that story.

I still can’t quite believe it (check the calendar; it must already be April 1st). Oh Hollywood, you’re breaking my heart. Vertigo is one of my top five favourite films of all time. Its a twisted fever-dream and its unique and you can’t have it, you can’t sully it with a modern-day remake that tries to make it contemporary. Call it something else, make it about some film nut who’s so obsessed with the film Vertigo that he’s haunted by it and it drives him to try remake his girlfriend as Kim Novak and in so doing real-life mimics art (i.e. it really doesn’t end well). But don’t call it Vertigo and don’t remake Hitchcock’s masterpiece. Leave it alone. Go remake Lucas’ 1977 Star Wars, you know you want to.


5 thoughts on “Vertigo remake? Say it isn’t so…

  1. I have a hunch this will never get further than the talks stage. The announcement of its possibility alone generates publicity, and of course there is said to be no such thing as bad publicity, and even if something were to come of it in the end, the name, provenance, and resultant controversy would pull in a number of viewers. Like Van Sant’s Psycho remake, however, it would surely be fated to drift into cinematic oblivion rapidly.

    1. Yes, hopefully the reports are the just some opening gambit, putting the feelers Out There to see what interest there is or the mood of the response (which I hope is negative). I read reports like that though (and remaking Vertigo is one of the nuttiest yet) and it really makes me despair at modern Hollywood. I think they must be getting desperate as the latest Superhero films are tanking at the Box Office and they are floundering regards where to go next.

  2. Matthew McKinnon

    Who cares?

    It’s not like a remake cancels out the original.
    Even if it’s a hit – which it won’t be, because the story is kind of antiquated and done to death for a contemporary audience – it’s not like Hitchcock’s movie is going anywhere.

    1. Yeah, I appreciate where you’re coming from- but I’m currently in a funk regards all the remakes/reboots and the general reticence of Hollywood regards anything new, or optioning one of all those original books in stores that might make a good film. And I hate to admit it, but I’m annoyed every time I rewatch Alien having to ignore the fact that Prometheus pissed all over the Lovecraftian mystery and grace of the Space Jockey- I could do without re-watching Vertigo in ten years with an instinctive reference to some lousy remake.

      Imagine how angry/frustrated I’d be if BR2049 had turned out to be lousy, lol.

      (Already getting tense about that BR2099 tv show coming to Amazon, mind…).

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