Robert Downey Jr and Steven Knight on board for Vertigo remake

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Paramount is reportedly set to back a remake of the Alfred Hitchcock neo-noir thriller of Vertigo, starring Robert Downey Jr.

Well this made our head spin. All terrible puns aside, a pretty shocking story has emerged today courtesy of Deadlinewith the outlet claiming that Robert Downey Jr is circling a remake of the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock thriller, Vertigo. Apparently, Steven Knight (who has just been named as the new writer on Disney’s next Star Wars project) is signed up to pen the project. No director has yet been named.

Paramount, the home of the original Vertigo, is reportedly financing the project, with the Hitchcock estate keen for the studio that backed the original to support this remake.


Now that we think about it there’s a number of reasons that we never thought we’d be looking into the headlights of a Vertigo remake, despite Hollywood’s never-ending penchant for revisiting, recycling, rebooting and remaking.

Firstly, the film held Sight and Sound magazine’s prestigious decade-long title as The Greatest Film Ever Made (until recently at least). Remaking what many consider to be the greatest film of all time is a bold but clearly futile gesture as you’re surely always going to be compared unfavourably to the original. It’s probably the same reason we haven’t seen a Citizen Kane remake. Yet.

Which brings us neatly on to point two: Gus Van Sant’s 1998 Psycho remake. If you’re going to remake Hitchcock, you’re faced with an impossible choice: deviate from the legendary director’s style and create something inferior or copy the film frame by frame (as Van Sant memorably did) and have everybody question why your film even exists.

Finally, point three: Vertigo's subject matter could be seen as problematic, at least by today’s standards. That’s not an issue for Hitchcock’s film as the movie is of course, a product of its time and naturally, its outdated representations of relationships and gender are central to the film’s identity. A recent video game adaptation of Vertigo tried to reinvent the film’s story for a more modern audience and by all accounts, it did not go down well.

Still, despite some very clear misgivings about this, far be it from us to shout down a project we know precious little about. We’re just raising some of the same conversation points that Downey and Knight have almost certainly discussed themselves. Perhaps the creators are planning a radical spin from Hitchcock’s 1958 classic, maybe it’s a different story altogether. We don’t yet know enough to judge but the announcement itself certainly raises the eyebrows although the announced talent is clearly promising enough.

The original romantic thriller saw James Stewart play a retired police detective fall into a spiral of obsession after being hired to tail a mysterious and beautiful woman. The film is considered a masterclass in suspense and continuing in that spirit, we’ll be in a state of suspense regarding this project until we hear more. When we do, we’ll certainly let you know but given Knight’s Star Wars commitments, it could be some way off.

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