It’s astounding how much Alfred Hitchcock’s oeuvre continues to be scrutinized and analyzed decades after his death by hardcore film lovers; perhaps no other pre-YouTube-age director has been the subject of as many supercuts, video essays, and tributes. And just when you think there isn’t anything new left that you could possibly say about the Master of Suspense, occasionally you’ll stumble upon something that makes you look at him a different light altogether.
Enter video essayist Nerdwriter’s illumination of Hitchcock’s smart, calculated staging of a pivotal scene in Vertigo. He breaks down, bit by insanely detailed bit, the choreographed “dance” between retired detective Scottie (James Stewart) and his acquaintance, Gavin, as the latter asks him to follow his wife around.* Tracing the movements of each of the characters as they sit or stand, or cross to another side of the room, Nerdwriter unpacks how the ever-shifting dynamics between the two are revealed in where they are positioned at any given moment throughout the layered conversation.
At eight minutes long, it’s an excruciating exercise in analysis that perhaps only a cinephile would appreciate—there’s even an accompanying diagram to map out the analysis! But if you do fall into that category, it’s incredibly fascinating viewing.
Correction, March 24, 2016: This post originally misidentified Gavin as Galvin.