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Parents Guide

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Sex & Nudity

  • WARNING: Parents' guides sometimes contain spoilers. VERTIGO, in particular, contains many surprises, which this guide may reveal.
  • There is no sex or nudity. There is, however, passionate kissing. It is implied that the two main characters sleep together out of wedlock. (The man is unmarried; the woman is--or seems to be--his friend's wife.)
  • The protagonist's obsession with a dead woman makes his actions in the second half of the film seem necrophilic. But this perversion is never made explicit.
  • The main character cajoles a woman into changing her appearance in order to look more like his dead lover. There is nothing explicit in the scenes but the director described it as a "reverse strip tease" since there is a clear sexual component to his desire.

Violence & Gore

  • The violence is not explicit. There is no gore.
  • In the opening scene, we see a policeman fall to his death from a rooftop.
  • Madeleine (the female lead) attempts suicide by jumping into San Francisco Bay. Again, the violence of these scenes is in no way explicit.


Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking

  • Early in the film, Scottie (the protagonist) makes a joking reference to drowning his troubles in alcohol. As the film progresses, there is an unstressed suggestion that he really does.

Frightening & Intense Scenes

  • At the opening of the movie, we see a woman's eye with the swirling vortex of terror in the pupil.
  • The film is very atmospheric, with music heightening the suspense throughout. There are intense, hallucinatory dream sequences, and a disturbing supernatural theme, of a living woman becoming possessed by a dead one.


The Parents Guide items below may give away important plot points.

Sex & Nudity

  • After the protagonist rescues the woman from "drowning" herself, we see him in his flat. The camera slowly pans to relatively unidentifiable underthings drying in his bathroom. The inference that he completely stripped her and held her wet body in his arms before retiring her to his bed is unavoidable. Further plot revelations reveal she was completely conscious during the process.

Violence & Gore

  • Judy, as Madeleine, fakes her death and the real Madeleine is pushed off of a church tower. We see her falling, hear a crash, and see her sprawled body on the rooftop in a wide shot.
  • At the end, Judy, frightened, accidentally backs off of the church tower and falls to her death. We only see her back out the frame and hear her scream as she falls.

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