I’ve long heard that this widely-regarded film is not only Hitchcock’s best, but also possibly one of the best overall pictures of the 20th century. Given that, I was somehow still surprised at what it manages to accomplish by the time of the final frame. Vertigo is a beautiful work of love, loss, mourning, obsession, and guilt. It works as a mystery, revealing its twists and turns at precise moments, but also as a profound love story, showing how affection can be equally healthy and destructive. It comes full circle wonderfully, as Midge tells John early in the movie that he may be able to cure his crippling fear by overcoming another emotional trauma, only to do so at the very end but cause another, more personal tragedy. John believes he has lost Madeline from the fall off the tower, and later finds a woman he believes looks exactly like her in Judy. When it turns out Judy is Madeline, his obsession has paid off and reunited him with his lost love. But when he takes her back to the tower to confront her, he is able to cure himself of the vertigo by facing his past, but it results in Madeline’s actual death. Love is like life, it exists in cycles, and sometimes they can be vicious ones. It’s alluring and dangerous, and can give you the same terrifying feeling that John gets from heights, and might even involve the same visual trickery. I haven’t seen Hitchcock’s entire catalog, but for me this is his masterpiece.