Film Analysis of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”

Introduction “Psycho” (1960) is based on a novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The film was directed by Hollywood legend, Alfred Hitchcock. The screen play was written by Joseph Stephano and based on the real life crimes of serial killer, Ed Gein. The film stars Janet Leigh, Anthony Perkins, John Gavin and Vera Miles. The film garnered four academy award nominations and widely regarded as one of Hitchcock’s best films. It spawned two sequels, a prequel, a remake and even a television show.

Synopsis The story begins with Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) and her lover, Sam Loomis (John Gavin) who are conducting an illicit affair. Marion is portrayed as a respectable and moral woman and Loomis is, as such, her male counterpart, possessing the same qualities. Later, at her work place, Marion is entrusted with a large sum of money by her employer. He asks her to deposit it at the bank but in a moment of weakness, Marion takes the money and runs to Fairvale where Sam lives. Though she does her best to be discreet, Marion is a terrible criminal and almost instantaneously draws attention to herself as someone who is in trouble. Almost at Fairvale, she is forced to stop for the night at the Bates Motel as it is raining too hard for her to reach Fairvale that night. The proprietor, Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), invites her to dinner at his family house on the hill overlooking the motel. When he leaves to prepare dinner, Marion hears him arguing with his unseen mother, who tells him that she refuses to allow him "bringing in strange young girls for supper". Norman brings sandwiches to the motel to eat there instead. The two proceed to have a conversation over dinner, topics ranging from taxidermy to Norman's mother, who he says has been mentally ill since the death of her lover. When Marion suggests that his mother be institutionalized, he becomes very aggressive, saying he wants to do so but does not want to abandon her. He compares his life to being in a "trap," and observes that everyone is in a similar situation. Marion agrees with him, telling him that she "stepped into a private trap back in Phoenix." Afterward, Marion returns to her room, where she resolves to

After Marion counts the money. Norman. Lila and Sam go visit Deputy Sheriff Al Chambers. . Back at Sam's shop. Seconds later. and proceeds up the staircase. He tries to attack Lila. Arbogast traces Marion to the motel and questions Norman. During the shower. She rejects the idea and orders him out of her room. considering he said it would only be an hour. Shocked. who was hired by Crane's employer to recover the money. Norman confronts his mother and urges her to hide in the fruit cellar. mother! Blood! Blood!" He runs to the motel. she takes a shower. obscured by a painting. so he tries to erase all traces of the crime to protect her. While Sam distracts Norman. At the house. Sam suggests to Norman that he killed Marion for the money so he could buy a new motel. in an unseen conversation. Sam and Lila check into the motel and search Marion's room. Arbogast wants to question Norman's mother. who is perplexed to learn that Arbogast saw Norman's mother in the window. Lila and Sam are puzzled that Arbogast has not returned for three hours. Sam is contacted by Marion's sister Lila (Vera Miles) and private detective Milton Arbogast (Martin Balsam). where he finds the corpse. where they find a scrap of paper stuck in the toilet with "$40. Lila and Sam realize that the only way to find out the truth is to go to the motel themselves. into the trunk of her car and sinks it in a nearby swamp. saying that more people will come looking for both Marion and Arbogast. Realizing Lila is not around. Norman's mother had poisoned her lover and then committed suicide. He puts Marion's body and all her possessions. The same assailant who killed Marion emerges from the adjacent room and stabs him to death. Posing as a married couple.return the money. he presumes his mother killed Marion. but Norman refuses to give permission. but against her will Norman carries her down to the cellar. God. Norman knocks Sam unconscious and rushes to the house. Lila sneaks into the house. Lila sees him approaching and hides in the cellar where she discovers a woman sitting in a rocking chair with her back to her. Arbogast returns to the house. including the newspaper in which she had hidden the money. Back at the house. She calls to the old woman—and discovers that it is in fact a mummified corpse. watches her undress through a hole in the wall. saying that she is ill. who unconvincingly lies that Marion only stayed for one night. he informs them that. Norman rushes in wearing his mother's clothes and a wig and brandishing a knife. an anonymous female assailant enters the bathroom and stabs her to death. but Sam subdues him just in time.000" written on it. who has become intrigued with her. Norman calls out to his mother: "Mother! Oh. Arbogast calls Lila to update her and tells her he will call again after he questions Norman's mother. 10 years before.

Loomis. he killed Marion. Marion is in a more calm and logical state – compromising between her Id and Super ego. a forensic psychiatrist tells Sam and Lila that Norman's dead mother is living in Norman's psyche as an alternate personality. When he was "Mother". He also talks about “traps” and people’s tendency to get caught up in them – giving Marion the pause needed for her to come to her senses and regret her impulsive actions. she does so.After Norman's arrest. Consumed with guilt. Ego and Super Ego: In the film. the "Mother" side of his mind would become extremely jealous. She also thinks about her boss. At this point. After the death of Norman's father. talked and dressed as she would. At this point. Later. and though she struggles with the decision. Norman "erased the crime" by bringing his mother back to life in his own mind. Psychoanalysis Id. all she thinks about is being with her lover. the pair lived as if they were the only people in the world. she is hell bent on using the money to further her and Loomis’ life together. she has succumbed to an illicit affair with him that she feels guilty about. the Id displays itself prominently in two characters – Marion Crane and Norman Bates. Though she is normally a moral and respectable woman. As she drives away. He stole her corpse and preserved the body. she finally embraces her Id and takes the money and leaves town. Marion is once again her normal state – the Ego. Marion’s Id has seemingly taken over her personality. Bates plays the role of her super ego in this situation. Marion’s struggle with her fundamental wants and desires begins with the first scene of the film when we are shown her conversation with her lover. he acted. She resolves to return to Phoenix and give back the money she stole. When his mother found a lover.her consciousness is now more rational and therefore. and when Norman's own personality felt affection toward another person. Marion’s struggle is ended when she reaches the Bates Motel and meets Norman Bates. Though she is scared of discovery. The psychiatrist concludes that the "Mother" personality now has complete control of Norman's mind. co-worker and the client she stole from. when Marion is given the chance to get her hands on a large sum of money. Norman went insane with jealousy and murdered them both. . Arbogast. talking about his sick mother and his obligations to her. with contempt. and two other missing women as "Mother". such as Marion.

Oedipal complex: Norman displays signs of an oedipal complex from the minute his character is introduced in the film. the Ego and the Super Ego. is seen at the end of the movie as completely under the control of his “mother”. a part of himself that he still accepts and see’s as “Norman”. He struggles to find the right balance between his Id and Super ego which results in conflicted actions – he is distraught to see blood on his “mother” and when he see’s Marion’s body. He plays the role of the Super Ego to Marion when he speaks with her. Norman. Norman had been . Bates’ character shows distinct symptoms of all three Freudian conceptsat various times in the film he is the Id. His identity of “Norman” is essentially his Ego – struggling between his “Mother’s” mistakes and his own high ideals which he voices to Marion. Norman and his mother shared an unhealthily close relationship where he was the centre of her world until she met her lover. an entirely different person. feels that his Id is separate from him. Norman is the perfect example of the Id. According to the psychiatrist at the end of the film. unlike Marion. choosing to embrace her Super Ego and repent. The same cycle occurs again with Arbogast. however. ill tempered. For many years. He compromises between the two by cleaning up after his “mother” and disposing of Marion’s body. ie. There is a marked difference between the two central characters – Norman and Marion – she is overcome with remorse. he is repulsed and terrified. It can also be defined as a struggle between his Realistic and Narcissistic egos. the most fascinating character in the film. Norman.Norman Bates is by far. His Id is portrayed by his “mother”. having embraced his Id in its entirety. reminding her of pitfalls and traps people fall into instead of doing their duty. Ego and Super Ego. This is the reaction of Norman’s Super ego. His “Mother” is an opinionated. Id. dominating woman who Norman tries hard to appease and is yet repulsed by. the raving lunatic who stabs and kills several victims because of Norman’s conflicted feelings and issues. Norman displays another classical Freudian disorder – the fabled Split personality disorder. Norman’s Ego is his conscious state when he isn’t being his “mother”.

notices a lot of things about Norman and his mother – she looks through her clothes. her jewellery.the only man in her life as her husband had died when Norman was very young. First with his mother. Bates. He was inappropriately attracted to her and was therefore enraged when she turned her attentions to someone else. Voyeurism in the film isn’t solely confined to Norman. A major instance of voyeurism is when Norman looks through a peep hole and watches Marion get undressed and prepare to take a shower. he watches her and then stabs her repeatedly. Norman’s life is dictated by his voyeurism. then they were like his mother who betrayed him and chose someone else over him.he loves her but hates her at the same time. If he liked them. Norman cannot conceive a world where his mother isn’t the centre of his universe and continues to keep her so by embalming her and keeping her body in his house – trying to keep her spirit alive the way he wants her to be. transferred to all other women that he was attracted to. Lila. Angry and jealous. serving as a stressor for his split personality. he is unable to form any real and healthy relationships and is extremely fixated on his mother. Without a male “phallic” figure to discourage his interest in his mother. unresolved as they were. Without a male figure and external influences. Voyeurism is shown to be a fundamental part of Norman’s make up when as “mother” at the end of the film. LP’s and his room. The oedipal complex is also shown in his mixed feelings towards her . Norman grew to be possessive towards his mother. he regards her inappropriately and obviously spies on her and her lover. he/she is obsessed with people watching her and showing them that she “couldn’t hurt a fly”. dressed as his mother. leading to their deaths while ‘in bed’ (as we later learn from the deputy’s wife). looking for Mrs. Later. etc as well as Norman’s books. Norman kills both his mother and her lover. Marion’s sister also is a sort of voyeur when she enters the Bates house. This later gives rise to his alter ego (the expression of his Id) as his “mother”. His anger drove him to kill them (we learn later that Marion was his third such victim). His conflicted sexual feelings towards his mother. He/she is convinced that they are watching and judging her. Another theme to the film is Voyeurism. scrutinizing it for signs of anything odd and in that situation. . She looks around the house.

Conclusion “Psycho” is one of Hitchcock’s best known films and one of the many with psychoanalytical influences. . giving them interesting aspects to watch out for. Hitchcock tended to insert subconscious Freudian ideas into his film. “Psycho” is truly a multi-layered film which has truly stood the test of time and remains one of the most shocking and eerie films in the history of cinema.

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