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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Mono
    English, French, German, Czech, Polish, Dutch, Portuguese, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  • Deleted scenes - foreign alternate ending
  • 2 Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - with associate producer Herbert Coleman and the restoration team
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Production notes
  • Photo gallery
  • Awards/Nominations
  • Storyboards

Vertigo - Collector's Edition

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 124 mins . PG . PAL


When you're talking Hitchcock, there's a few films that everybody namechecks. Psycho. North by Northwest. The Birds. And, of course, Vertigo.

Perhaps the film that gave the biggest insight in the director's own mind, into his own desires and weaknesses, Vertigo is an onion; the more you watch, the more layers you discover.

It's not right to give too much of the plot away, so I'll describe the opening state of play. James Stewart plays Scottie, a police detective who discovers he has an overwhelming fear of heights during a rooftop chase where a fellow officer falls to his death. Now retired, he is hired by a old school friend to trail his wife (Kim Novak). The reason?

His friend, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore) suspects his wife is possessed by the ghost of a woman who committed suicide years ago, and fears she will attempt suicide herself. The problem is, after Scottie saves her life when she jumps into San Francisco bay, he falls in love with her.

A basic enough setup, you might think, but at this point the film inverts itself, reaches out and wraps around the viewer, drawing you in. I'd like to say what happens next, but I don't want to spoil anything for you. What makes the film more fascinating is the way it's put together - Hitchcock utilised subtle lighting tricks, visual metaphors and invented the famous 'vertigo' effect which has since been ripped off countless times.


Finally, an Australian Universal disc that betters the Region 1 disc! The R1 disc is non-anamorphic, but we get 16:9 enhancement, plus all the extras of the R1 disc.

The film was given a full restoration in the early 90's by Robert Harris and James Katz, famous for saving classics like Lawrence of Arabia from certain destruction. Vertigo was similarly in very bad shape before they got their hands on the negative, which had suffered extensive damage and had faded badly.

This video transfer looks to have further corrected (or covered up) some problems that I noticed when I watched Vertigo in the theatre. There's a scene about halfway through the film where the restoration team couldn't find undamaged elements and had to use a very dodgy piece of negative, and in the theatre the quality drop was enough to make people gasp. On the disc it's barely noticeable.

Detail, while far from reference quality, is reasonable, though many scenes were shot deliberately soft. Colour is usually well-saturated, and shadow detail is as I would expect for a film of this vintage. I noticed no MPEG artifacting or obvious film artifacts. Grain was noticeable, but not excessive (the restoration team used a 70mm negative to preserve the quality of the original VistaVision format).


Originally mono, the re-release was remixed with a stereo recording of the awe-inspiring Bernard Herrmann score and many foley effects were re-recorded. The opening rooftop scene is obviously 'different' to how it would have sounded originally, but usually the new sound work is well-performed.

The audio is focused very much on the front three channels, with only minor envelopment from the surrounds. This is probably as it should be, as we're not talking End of Days here. The Herrmann score sounds wonderful, with good warmth and a wide soundstage. There is very minor hiss present, but the soundtrack is fairly smooth and easy to listen to at reference level.


At first I was annoyed, thinking that the Australian disc had less features than the US edition, but they're all here, just lazily slapped on to the end of the documentary, rather than getting their own menu entry.

The extras have been lifted straight off the NTSC laserdisc of a few years ago (which I owned for a while before selling to my housemate, planning to buy the DVD), to the point of still referring to using the 'step' button on your remote, which DVD doesn't have!

Anyway, here's what you get:

  • Commentary - with associate producer Herbert Coleman and the restoration team, this talks more about the making of the film than the restoration, which I found a little disappointing, as the process of trying to track down and save negatives seemed interesting.
  • Documentary - 'Obsessed with Vertigo', a half-hour feature on the creation and restoration of the film, with interviews with the surviving cast, crew and restoration team. Good stuff.
  • Theatrical trailers - both the original and 1984 rerelease trailers are included.
  • Production notes - your average Universal fare.
  • Cast & Filmmakers' Notes - ditto.

And the stuff they left off the packaging:

  • Photo gallery - mostly in black and white, and taken from a composite master, meaning lots of cross-colour artifacts.
  • Foreign ending - the so-called 'censored' ending, in reality shot by Hitchcock to appease foreign distributors who wanted a more conventional tying-up of loose ends.
  • Storyboards - some sketches by Hitchcock, but mostly by storyboard artist Henry Bumstead.
  • Advertising material - including a bunch of foreign posters.
  • More production notes - these seem more substantial than the ones made for the DVD, but as they're sourced from composite video, the cross-colour noise makes the small writing quite difficult to read. It's also not as easy to search through this material as DVD doesn't have the easy multi-stepping capability that laserdisc did. Pressing the right arrow 100 times isn't fun.


A must-see film, obviously, and for once Australia gets the best edition. The higher resolution of anamorphic PAL and the same great extras make the choice between R1 and R4 a no-brainer.

Way to go, Universal! I almost forgive you for the stunt you pulled with Psycho!

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=322
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  •  DVD NET Gold Review List 
      And I quote...
    "Vertigo is an onion; the more you watch, the more layers you discover..."
    - Paul Dossett
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Panasonic A360
    • TV:
          Mitsubishi Diva 33
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha DSP-A1
    • Speakers:
          Richter Excalibur
    • Centre Speaker:
          Richter Unicorn
    • Surrounds:
          Richter Hydras
    • Audio Cables:
          Monster RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Monster s-video
      Recent Reviews:
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