Nicholas Baker

Unit 4 – Written Assignment

01/03/2012

A Critical Analyses of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ in terms of Story and Structure
By Nicholas Baker

Figure 1 - 'Psycho' Poster Art

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Nicholas Baker

Unit 4 – Written Assignment

01/03/2012

Contents Page
Introduction Main Essay Conclusion Bibliography Page – 3 Page – 4-7 Page - 8 Page - 9

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Nicholas Baker

Unit 4 – Written Assignment

01/03/2012

Introduction
This assignment will go through the film ‘Psycho’ directed by Alfred Hitchcock and the impact it has on the audience from the story and structure, from the use of certain camera movements and shots to editing and order of the scenes. Evidence that will help back up this assignment will be Michael Bay’s ‘How to Turn Your Boring Movie into a Hitchcock Thriller’. This will help analyse the way Hitchcock structures his films so well with the techniques of editing and camera movements. Kakoudaki’s ‘Hitchcock’s Narrative Style of ‘Psycho’ will help evidence how Hitchcock envisioned the famous shower scene in the movie ‘Psycho’ and the techniques taken to give off the best effect to go down in history within filmography. Finally Vanneman’s ‘Alfred Hitchcock: A Hank of Hair and a Piece of Bone’ will help point the comparison of Hitchcock’s story and structure within the film Psycho to give it such suspense.

Definitions:
Story “A narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale”. (Story, 1979). “anything composed of parts arranged together in some way; an organization”. (Structure, 1979).

Structure -

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Nicholas Baker

Unit 4 – Written Assignment

01/03/2012

Main Essay
Alfred Hitchcock, master of suspense from his ever popular films such as Rope, Vertigo, The Birds, Psycho and many more. Hitchcock has left a massive impact on the way the film industry combines its story and structure to create immense films which give off such thrill and eye popping techniques with the uses of editing and camera movements to make any scene look more dramatic. Vanneman’s states that “The brilliance of the shower scene is that it keeps us relentlessly in the very middle of a horrifying event — we feel as if we are seeing "everything," far more than we want to see — without ever becoming merely sadistic or gruesome. In part, we are caught between two desires, the desire to see the naked body of a beautiful woman, and the desire not to see a brutal murder”. (Vanneman, 2000). Hitchcock’s techniques of editing and camera adjustments have made the shower scene be remembered throughout film history and parodied by many shows, the effect that this gives editing gives off seems confusing from its quick changes to Marion’s face/body to the knife, shower, black figure and blood making it a unique type of editing to form a strong structure that keeps the audience intrigued.

Figure 2 - Psycho 'Shower Scene Montage'

The film was portrayed in black and white to give a silent movie effect that Hitchcock was going for. The image above is montages of the ‘shower scene’ were Marion’s murder is taking place. Each scene gives off an iconic frame for the scene making it look confusing and quite a struggle for Marion during the attack as it then cuts to the final frame off the Marion’s eye indicating her death as the scene ends with the emphasis of fear and horror
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Nicholas Baker

Unit 4 – Written Assignment

01/03/2012

beaming out in the lost few shots making this an original and outstanding structure from the mind of Hitchcock. With ‘Psycho’ being a suspense roller-coaster throughout the film to the audience, the question comes to mind, is it just the basis of the story that holds it all together or the structure from the editing or camera movements that have made an impact to make it a well known and loved movie. Kakoudaki states that “For Hitchcock, such an arrangement often depends on allowing the audience to see or know certain parts of the story, even know the course of the unfolding crime or plan, before the characters, or some of the characters, do. This emotional and narrative preparation of the audience becomes precisely the structure that Hitchcock can then upend, disrupt, challenge, or redirect, rigging the balance between the expected and the unexpected”. (Kakoudaki, 2010). Story and structure are core components throughout all productions of films and within Hitchcock’s films the way the story and structure intertwine with one another build the suspense and what way he wants the audience to feel. The combination of both these components in ‘Psycho’ throughout the film brings it to a whole new level.

Figure 3 Norman and Marion Scene

Norman Bates the murderer and doppelganger in the film ‘Psycho’ gone crazy over the death of his mother as he is the owner of the motel that Marion stays as she is his new victim. Hitchcock made Normans characteristics to be quite normal at first but as the film continues his traits off insanity start to slip as things start to get too much for him when questions are aroused about Marion’s whereabouts. The way the suspense builds for Norman’s character through the story works well and hides the impression that he is the murderer and the doppelganger of his mother.
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Nicholas Baker

Unit 4 – Written Assignment

01/03/2012

Hitchcock is notorious in the film industry for his originality and the way he can make any scene have more to it with adjustments in editing and camera movements to give off more depth, meaning and suspense which has made his a legend in the film industry and a master of suspense. The techniques he uses have passed down through history and are still used to this date in film production. Michael Bay states: “Hitchcock used this theory of proximity to plan out each scene. These variations are a way of controlling when the audience feels intensity, or relaxation. Hitchcock compared this to a composer writing a music score except instead of playing instruments, he's playing the audience”. (Michael Bay, 2004). Bringing emotion to the audience was the key technique Hitchcock liked to use by making sure what he put into his scenes/frames the audience would get the right emotion he was looking for to get the best outcome for each scene to make the movie more than just a film but an experience that the audience could leave the theatre guessing and wanting more depending on the films outcome.

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Nicholas Baker

Unit 4 – Written Assignment

01/03/2012

Conclusion
The structure of the infamous ‘shower scene’ in the film Psycho has gone down in history and is well known for its montage of frame by frame edits of the murder of Marion making the audience imagine a different way of how she died for each person from the stabbing motion. Hitchcock has made a name for himself in the film industry for his techniques of camera movements, frame to emotions and edits to the story and structure to make it the best that it could be, hence his nickname ‘Master of Suspense’. So in conclusion the story and structure throughout ‘Psycho’ is a well-balanced amount at the start but starts to unravel as Marion gets to the motel as the audience is then taken on a roller coaster of thrills, fear and shock as they are entertained from start to finish. Also adding that the techniques and effects he used are still used to this day as he is an icon to many young and famous directors as his techniques live on.

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Nicholas Baker

Unit 4 – Written Assignment

01/03/2012

Bibliography
Sources Kakoudaki, D. (2010) “Get Out of the Shower”: The “Shower Scene” and Hitchcock’s Narrative Style in ‘Psycho’. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/126713-getout-of-the-shower-or-surprise-and-suspense-the-shower-scene-and- (Accessed on 14/05/2012). Michael Bays, J. (2004) How to turn your boring movie into a Hitchcock thriller. http://borgus.com/hitch/hitch2011.htm (Accessed on 14/05/2012). Vanneman, A. (2000) Alfred Hitchcock: A Hank of Hair and a Piece of Bone. http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/28/psycho1.html (Accessed on 14/05/2012).

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Dictionary Story. (1979). In: Collins English Dictionary. 10th ed. Glasgow: HarperCollins. (Accessed on 14/05/2012). Structure. (1979). In: Collins English Dictionary. 10th ed. Glasgow: HarperCollins. (Accessed on 14/05/2012).

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Illustrations Fig 1 - Psycho Poster Art. (1960) From: Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’. On: collider http://collider.com/alfred-hitchcock-the-essentials-collection-dvd-review/126485/ (Accessed on 14/05/2012). Fig 2 - Shower Scene. (1960) From: Psycho. On: stevestudios http://steveostudios.tv/2011/10/best-of-alfred-hitchcock/ (Accessed on 14/05/2012). Fig 3 - Norman and Marion Scene. (1960) From: Psycho. On: criticafterdark http://criticafterdark.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/psycho-alfred-hitchcock-1960.html (Accessed on: 14/05/2012).

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