Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Psycho - Directed by Alfred Hitchcock


Camera angles in Psycho include point of view shots, which was effective in the range of scenes depicting where a particular character is heading towards or what object, person, environment they are looking at. This was clearly effective for the scene of Marion in the shower looking at the looming figure that has drawn back the shower curtains, also the shot where Lila Crane steps down into the cellar and discovers Mrs bates. This is first shown as the form turned away as if she was looking at person sitting with their back to her. Then Lila turns the chair round and reveals that the form is the dead skeleton, looking at it through her eyes and how this discovery has made the story more disturbing. The extreme close up was another angle that was used for dramatic emphasis, used in the scenes where the policeman looks through the window of Marion's car and to mark the arrival of the Private Investigator Milton Arbogast. They both zoom right close into the face so that they look imposing, their expressions give the effect of long stare made to make the audience uncomfortable because they are forced to look at the shot. The cross dissolve at the end of the film to mark the mother side of Norman taking over and dominating the conflict reveals how his own identity has been lost because he can't accept the loss of his mother, therefore taking on her personality is the only way to keep his mother alive.

Figure 1, 2010, Psycho still of Mrs Bates

 The edited soundtrack also makes the viewer aware of the intense and uncomfortable scenes, it was first used when Marion drives away from town and feels as if the policeman is following from a distance. It makes the viewer aware of Marion trying to escape because of her situation and not sure on the motive. The music was more dramatic in the shower scene because the shower curtain is forcedly pulled back and the sound of Marion's screams indicated how fast the knife comes towards and slashes her. "You can bet that everyone who's ever seen it immediately feels their heart start to pound when they're in the shower and hear someone enter the bathroom." (Harris, 2000) This quote points out how the build up of the scene that the viewer knows will happen also identifies how the tension and adrenaline. The noises of someone approaching make the audience aware of another human presence but not sure of their intention, this allows the secrets to follow on and lead up to a dramatic event.

Figure 2, 2010, Psycho still of shower scene

The film doesn't reveal the all the mystery until the final scenes so begins centred around Marion trying to escape town and not wanting people to know where she is going. Marion changes her car because she feels like she is being followed by the policeman, this makes the viewer suspicious of her character and why she is trying so hard to be undetectable. She stops at a run-down motel that also seems suspicious because it appears to be run by Norman Bates and his mother but there are no other residents in the other rooms and the lights are switched off as if indicating that this place also has a secret to hide. The motel and house draws more suspicion as the story progresses with the murder of Marion and how Arbogast starts to link the coincidences together and suspects that she stayed there in the past week. Arbogast's death influences Lila and Sam to explore those curiosities and discover that Mrs Bates was actually dead. The end of the film informs the viewer of how Norman bates was the actual person insane because of the conflift of his and Mrs Bate's personalities, which is not picked up on in the dialogue scenes and only hearing two voices. "Hitchcock uses the old plea that nobody give out the ending -- 'It's the only one we have.' This will be abided by here, but it must be said that the central force throughout the feature is a mother who is a homicidal maniac. This is unusual because she happens to be physically defunct, has been for some years. But she lives on in the person of her son." (Staff, 2011) The evidence implies how the story slowly shapes how the ending will resolve, in this case it is the form of Norman's mother and how her jealously drives him too kill the women his has an attraction for. The mother side takes over at the end to signify that the inner struggle is over, the conflict has reached a resolution.

Figure 3, 2010, Psycho still of Norman Bates with taxidermy

 Psycho has based ideas of the uncanny because it plays on the dysfunctional family of the mother and Norman having a sexual relationship and will eliminate any person that would threaten this. The presence of the mother within Norman identifies the unnatural of two genders within one form and how his identity is lost because he can not remove his mother. This forces him to dress and speak like her to try to animate his memories of when she was once alive, which connects to the idea of the dead returning as a physical and mental form. Norman also keeps the skeleton of the mother to create the impression that she is still a separate person and so the stories of caring for her and dialogue scenes feel more believable to the other characters and the viewer. The house also had a dark presence as it felt empty and not truly lived in, the idea of whoever enters will be murdered because they would learn the disturbing truth and would no longer feel welcome within this space. "In interviews Hitchcock stressed that: Psycho is a fun picture... it's like taking the audience through the haunted house at the fairground." (Total Film, 2006) The evidence describes how the disturbing themes are not meant to completely repulse the viewer because of its tasteful black and white approach, meaning the horror/ gore is not glorified.

Figure 4, 2010, Psycho still of Norman Bate's over side taking control

 Figure 5, 2010, Psycho still of house


Figure 1, (2010), Psycho still of Mrs Bates, @, Accessed on: 17th November 2010

Figure 2, (2010), Psycho still of shower scene, @, Accessed on: 11th May 2010

Figure 3, (2010), Psycho still of Norman Bates and taxidermy, @, Accessed on: 1st February 2010

Figure 4, (2010), Psycho still of Norman Bates other side taking over, @, Accessed on: 22nd August 2010

Figure 5, (2010), Psycho still of House, @, Accessed on: 11th May 2010


Harris Will, (2000), - Psycho, @, Accessed on: 10th February 2010

Staff Variety, (2011), Variety - Review - Psycho, @, Accessed on: 7th October 2008

Total Film, (2006), The Modern guide to movies - Psycho, @, Accessed on: 19th October 2010

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