Psycho Film Review Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock 1960

Figure1: movie poster Joseph Stephano’s screenplay for the 1960 suspense cross-over horror film, is based on a book by Robert Bloch. The main character Norman bates, was influenced by the notorious 1930’s serial killer named Ed Gein. The story closely follows the novels narrative, about a woman named Marion Crane (played by Janet Leigh) who runs away after stealing money from her boss, and fatalistically makes a stop at the Bates motel . It is this ill-fated decision which sets the stage for the films famous groundbreaking shower scene. The scene took thirty –four shots, six form Marion’s point of view, and sixteen from bates. This had the effect of the audience being “forced into the uncomfortable position of alternating between the killer's viewpoint and the victim's”.(Kendrick, 2010) This is considered to be one of the big departures from “traditional Hollywood narrative”. The other being that the central character , Marion, is brutally murdered in the first forty five minutes of the

film. Hitchock is said to have planned the narrative this way saying that the beginning of the film was a “red herring” to make the murder scene even more suspenseful. Enter The shrilling sound of violins, shots form multiple viewpoints, and use inexpensive special effects in shadowing black and white film, and the effect is successful.”

Figure 2

The rest of the film focuses on Norman Bates. In fact it is like the beginning of a new story; Norman Bates is a psychologically disturbed serial killer who believes his mother is a live and a serial killer. But Hitchock cleverly hides the full extent of bates lunacy form the audience, scattering clues along the way for the other cast members: sam, Marion’s lover, her sister Lila, and detective Arbogast who has been hired to recover the stolen money. They in turn begin to search for Marion and so The mystery of norman Bates and his odd behaviour toward his unseen mother, unfolds. The first real indication we get that bates is a psychopathic killer, is when Arbogast discovers that bates mother has been dead for ten years. Unfortunately , he does not live long enough to get this information back to Sam and Lila.

The unseen figure of Bates’ mother is central to the story. She is only seen as a dark silhouetted figure who carries out the violent murders, and is seen, by Arbogast ,watching form her bedroom window. Director Hitchock portrays Bates as a man who completely believes he is innocent, and that his mother is disturbed and needs protection and care. so, after the shadowy hand of mother hacks into Arbogast’s face, a visibly anxious bates hides his dead mother in the cellar.

Figure 3 The story became even darker for the audience, as we realise that bates and mother are one and the same. this is finally revealed when he attempts to stab Lila, who has just seen the decomposed boy of the real mrs. Bates, dressed in a wig and a dress. Later, when he is arrested, we learn that he has a split personality, where he and his mother dwell together inside his head, and that he in fact killed her and her lover ten years ago.

Sources Disturbing New Pathways: Psycho and the Priming of the Audience. Journal of Popular Film & Television, Spring2010, Vol. 38 Issue 1, p2-9, 8p, 5 Black and White Photographs Black and White Photograph; found on p8 Figure1: http://www.bernardherrmann.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/ psycho-4.jpg Figure2: http://eng3122.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/psycho.jpg Figure3: http://www.theartsdesk.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/ mast_image_landscape/mastimages/Psycho_110Pyxurz.jpg

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful