Psycho

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Psycho

  1. 1. Psycho (1960) • • • • Director: Alfred Hitchcock Writers: Joseph Stefano (screenplay), Robert Bloch (novel) • Stars: • Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh and Vera Miles
  2. 2. “Psycho” • Storyline The maguffin! • Phoenix office worker Marion Crane is fed up with the way life has treated her. She has to meet her lover Sam in lunch breaks and they cannot get married because Sam has to give most of his money away in alimony.
  3. 3. “Psycho” • One Friday Marion is trusted to bank $40,000 by her employer. Seeing the opportunity to take the money and start a new life, Marion leaves town and heads towards Sam's California store. Tired after the long drive and caught in a storm, she gets off the main highway and pulls into The Bates Motel.
  4. 4. “Psycho” • The motel is managed by a quiet young man called Norman who seems to be dominated by his mother.
  5. 5. Hitchcock Thoughts • In “Psycho” the audience initially think the film is about $40,000 and the murder becomes a shock. This shock makes the audience apprehensive for the rest of the film – anything could happen / anyone could be killed.
  6. 6. Hitchcock Thoughts • The audience know there is a murderer in the house. They don’t know when s/he will strike again but to be suspenseful they must know it could happen any minute. Hitchcock stressed that as the apprehension increases there is less and less violence on screen.
  7. 7. “Psycho” (1960) In what ways is this an archetypal thriller?
  8. 8. “Psycho” (1960) • This time the external threat is from a mad man! • A deranged mind!
  9. 9. “Psycho” (1960) • “Thrillers are characterized by fast pacing, frequent action,” • • • • Find examples of this in “Psycho” Shower Car staircase.
  10. 10. “Psycho” (1960) • “resourceful heroes who must thwart the plans of more powerful and better equipped villains.” • Is this true of “Psycho” • Who is the hero? Is there one?
  11. 11. Norman Bates • Hitchcock said it is important to avoid cliché and repetition – particularly with regard to character – eg murderers can be charming and the heroes flawed. • In his films Hitchcock often placed evil in the most banal of settings.
  12. 12. “Devices such as suspense, red herrings and cliffhangers are used extensively.” • Story-wise, Psycho is not extraordinary; its true ingeniousness lies in its construction. Hitchcock has developed the movie in such a way that it consistently flouts expectations. There are two major surprises: the shower scene murder and the final revelation about Mother.
  13. 13. “Devices such as suspense, red herrings and cliffhangers are used extensively.” • A viewer who sees the film for the first time without knowing about either will experience the full impact of what Hitchcock intended. The greatest shock for the uninitiated is the early exit of Janet Leigh. This is doubly unexpected because, to this point, the screenplay had tricked us into accepting Marion as the main character.
  14. 14. “Devices such as suspense, red herrings and cliffhangers are used extensively.” • When events dispel that illusion, and the point-of-view shifts to Norman Bates', viewers are understandably non plused. In order to keep this crucial aspect of the film secret and intact when Psycho opened in 1960, there were no advance screenings and no one was admitted to a showing after the feature had started.
  15. 15. “Psycho” (1960) • “Devices such as suspense, red herrings and cliffhangers are used extensively.” • Find examples of this in “Psycho” Be specific! • Suspense – how built up? What part does the music play in building the suspense?
  16. 16. “Psycho” (1960) • “A thriller is a villain driven plot, whereby he presents obstacles the hero must overcome.” • Is this true of “Psycho” ? • Who is the villain?
  17. 17. “Psycho” • Hitchcock said thrillers allow the audience, "to put their toe in the cold water of fear to see what it's like” Has he succeeded in this film? “Psycho is a brilliant excursion into fear that pushes many of our primal buttons”
  18. 18. Did you know? •Yet none of Hitchcock's films had as profound an impact upon the American psyche as this one. When it was initially released in 1960, it was a huge box office hit (there are stories of 3-mile long lines at drivein entrances), and its popularity has not waned over the last four decades. In fact, the fascination with the film has grown to the point where 1998 will saw the unthinkable: a remake.
  19. 19. Do you agree? •However, although the plot can be redone, the characters recycled, and even the music reused, no one can recapture the uniqueness of this movie. The very idea of remaking Psycho is bad, because Hitchcock's version is definitive. The shower scene alone stands as one of the greatest single examples of execution and editing in the history of cinema. How can anyone re-do a sequence that was perfect in its initial form?
  20. 20. The Shower Scene Whenever anyone speaks about • Psycho, the first images that come . to mind are those of Janet Leigh being hacked to death in the shower. The scene is so famous that even people who have not seen the movie are aware of it.
  21. 21. The Shower Scene • Bernard Herrmann's strident, discordant music has been used in countless other movies to denote the appearance of a "psycho."
  22. 22. Genius! • The brilliance of the scene lies in the editing. Those who go frame-by-frame through it will note how much is left to the imagination.
  23. 23. The Shower Scene • We see a knife, blood (actually chocolate syrup), water, and a woman's naked body (with certain parts strategically concealed from the camera), but only briefly is the penetration of the blade into the flesh shown*.
  24. 24. The Shower Scene • The full horror of the murder is only hinted at on-screen. It takes the power of the viewer's imagination to fill in the blanks. (Presumably, that's the reason why so many of today's unimaginative movie-goers, who are accustomed to having a screen full of gore presented for their consumption, find Psycho tame.)
  25. 25. Trivia • It's not surprising that the movie generated a wave of shower phobia - some people, made aware of their vulnerability during a shower, started taking baths. (Janet Leigh is one such victim -- she claims that she never took a shower again after making the film.)

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