Alfred Hitchcock was born August 13th, to a Roman Catholic family In Leystone, England. He attended Saint Ignatius College, London school of engineering and navigation followed by the University of London. His movie career began as an inter-titles designer for silent films, the begun directing when sound films were introduced, in the late 1920’s. Hitchcock Was known to his audience’s as ‘the master of suspense’ and what Hitchcock mastered was not only the art of making films but also the task of taming his own raging imagination.
Hitchcock told his stories through intelligent plots, witty dialogue and a spoonful of murder and mystery. Hitchcock died on April 28th, 1980 from liver failure and heart problems. Psycho was one of the first of many to depict sexuality and violence in a graphic manner, although the youth market was ready for such change, the older audience resisted the modern trends. For this reason Psycho was initially received by many with anger and critical rejection. Mise-en-scene Creating atmosphere, is a vital and major part of a movie, it gives the audience and edge feeling.
This achieved by the ‘mise-en-scene’ being used. In ‘psycho’ the dramatic and important events have taken place at the Bates motel and home; effectively they are the centre of attention, producing the mise-en-scene to have a powerful atmosphere around these. In conclusion to this the sets, props and exteriors are placed in such a way to unsettle the audience. In the scene where we see the first shot of the famous ‘psycho house’ it emphasis the gloomy dull atmosphere surrounding it. When we see the home it has been placed on a hill leaving the illuminated clouds behind it to bring out he shades of the dark house.
There are steps leading towards the house this symbolizes danger along with the atmosphere around the home. When we see Norman talking to Marion in the parlour, she is comfortable, quite relaxed and dimly lit. Behind and above her, the curved lines are repeated in a picture frame. Marion, with the light colour of her dress, the curves in her hair style and her posture, adds to the sense that she is or will be the victim. Opposite Marion is Norman, he unlike Marion is immersed in straight lines, angular sharp points rather than the curves like harmony. He is wearing dark clothing and is cast in the shadows as to signify his dark nature.
Hitchcock has shown the most graphic clue to Norman’s twisted nature is the stuffed birds mounted on the wall. The birds symbolize many things for Norman matching the watchful owl (as watchful as Norman) about to take flight directly towards Marion while the mournful raven, with its long, drooping beak casts its shadows against the wall directly above Marion’s head. In the scene were we see Norman, carrying a tray containing a sandwich and a jug of milk. Marion’s face is well lit and she appears to radiate glowing warmth on the other hand Hitchcock positions Norman opposite Marion.
Behind Norman we see his reflection in a mirror emphasizing the Clash of his dual personality. The Shower Sequence In the Famous shower scene Marion enters flushing away the slip of paper, the vortex of the water washing away all traces of her sin . She enters the confined shower cubicle, almost instantly steam fills the room. A subjective shot taken directly beneath the shower head shows it staring down almost like a blind eye, the water spiralling out of it falling to the hard, slippery surface. Leaving Marion Alone and vulnerable. She is left to cleanse herself and relived of the burden of her folly.
This leaving the audience in a state of curiosity, Her eyes reflecting her relaxed mood, only hearing the clearly audible sound of the shower, the sound changes to a mellow melody getting faster and the notes getting higher as the tension starts building. The shot starts to pan and zoom back framing and focussing on the door. As it opens and the silhouette intruder approaches, Marion is still blissfully unaware of the intruder. Through the steam filled translucent shower curtains we see the dark image of the intruder lifting up a large bread knife. By now the audience are at the edge of their seats from shock of this revelation.
Hitchcock has this dark intruder disguised but wants the audience to believe that it is Norman’s mother. The intruder then wrenches the curtain open, the music hits its peak notes, the Intruder then stands before Marion, they pause to let her take in the horror of her situation. They launch their attack as Marion screams; we see an extreme close up of her mouth. This creates a feeling of pure horror and shock. Her screams are blended with the high pitched violin screams. Marion is naked and defenceless and in shock however she tries to ward of the assault with her hands and arms but the attack is rent less.
Every time the attacker stabs Marion, we see some subjective shots from her point of view and mostly shots from different angles of the attack, all the shots change swiftly. Abruptly the onslaught ends, the attacker leaves. Marion silently sinks down against the wall, her hand reaches forward directly toward the audience for help, and mercy as if she was reaching out to them. Her hand reaches the translucent misty shower curtain, the eyelets pop off one by one beneath her weight the curtain collapses. Marion sprawls lifelessly over the edge of the tub.
The blood is illuminated against the glowing white tiles and surface, the water continues running to run as if trying to clean up the blood streaked tub. We are drawn along with the tainted liquid as it swirls down the drain. Hitchcock has then chosen to dissolve the drain into Marion’s eye. Her eye is superimposed, un-blinking eye of the slain woman. Beginning with an extreme close-up of the killers peeping eye ending with the open eye of the murder victim, subtly implied the presence of a third eye, the viewers. The camera tracks backwards, circling as it does so, having spiralled down into the vortex, we have to unspiral to get out of it.
A woman’s eye, like a drain, like a toilet is an entryway to the darkness. The camera continues to pan back so we can see Marion’s face scared, shocked yet so lifeless pressed against the bathroom floor. Hitchcock take the audience down in the aftermath of the murder by reminding us how Marion had changed her mind about keeping the money but still she tragically died, and watching the blood swirl down the drain was like Marion’s life swirling out of her. The camera shot pans across the bathroom where the paper containing the money lay lit under a lamp.
The camera then turns towards the window the dreary house beyond. At this point Hitchcock has caught the audience completely off guard and now wondering why this inexplicable, unpremeditated death occurred. Arbogast Murder In the scene where Arbogast is entering the bates home he starts by looking up at the dull home making the house look bigger and more imposing, the scenery out side the home is bland and eerie, as there is a spooky tree outside. Then ahead are the steps leading to the house. The audience can now sense that approaching the old gothic home will be a mistake for Arbogast.
The front door is unlocked as he enters the door makes a disturbing sound when it closes behind him, disturbing the dead silence. The house is dimly lit not enough for welcoming him. Arbogast looks around hesitantly, Hitchcock has then chosen subjective shots, so we can be put in Arbogasts position and emphasize with him. The music starts to imply that something is about to happen. He looks away and we see a cupid holding a bow. The shadow creating an un-known figure holding a knife. This is a perfect part of the miser-en-scene along with the bland interior.
Arbogast then glances up towards the threatening stairs; he slowly proceeds upstairs where ahead of him is a crack in the door leaving a thin band of light beaming through the door. The door quickly widens, as we hear the same strings we heard during the shower scene, implying danger. We cut to seeing an overhead shot of the aggressor launching his attack, stabbing Arbogast. We then see shots of Arbogast’s stunned yet shocked face. Now bleeding from, the aggressor stabbing him in his face, Arbogast is caught off balance; he stumbles back down the tedious stairs in a semi-upright almost comic, backwards trot.
We are drawn down with him as he waves his arms frantically, again trying to reach the audience like Marion had. The aggressor follows him down as we see Arbogasts startled, bleeding face. The aggressor now kneels beside his sprawled body and concludes on finishing the job, plunging the knife repeatedly into the detective as he lets out one last cry. This is another new Revelation to the audience; Hitchcock has planned this attack to make the audience believe that Normans mother is the killer. The Ending
Hitchcock, during the last ten minutes builds up all the atmosphere, shock, and tension by using lighting, props, clothing, facial expressions, music, camera angles and the mise-en-scene. When we see Lila going towards the Bates home, Hitchcock cuts back and forth between Lila and the house, as though it were advancing on her. Lila looks increasingly frightened, as though she were suffering from a form of vertigo. She seizes the door knob and entered, at this point the audience are reminiscent of what just happened with Arbogast, they would be screaming at the screen for Lila to leave.
She proceeds a few paces inside the entrance hall, looking around cautiously at the unimaginative entrance hall before making her way up the sinister stairs. We then cut to Sam and Normans conversation before getting back to Lila she as she approached Norman’s mothers room, where she called for her then, after no answer entered Lila explores the suffocating Victorian di?? cor, the armoire with carefully spaced frilly dresses, the camera focus’s on a bronze cast of a pair of hands, and then the vanity table. Lila then is startled by the image of herself in a mirror.
This suggests Lila knows she shouldn’t be there and she is also scared of what might happen to her. Lila then turns towards the Bed where we see where someone has recently lain. At this point we go back to Sam and Norman arguing. Lila climes up another flight of stairs towards another room. The room seems suited for a child. Where we see filthy toys, a un made bed, a broken teddy suggesting a broken childhood. Lila looks inside a book. The expression on her face teases the audience’s imagination. We then see Sam and Norman arguing, Norman looks very nervous.
His jaw is twitching while Sam is leaning on the table and staring at Norman who then asks where Lila is. After realising where she is Norman hits Sam and retreats swiftly back towards his home. At this point the audience know Lila is in trouble and are very tense and panicky. Lila reaches the bottom of the stairs only to see Norman coming up the path. She cleverly hides beneath the cellar stairs. As Norman enters, but then to the screams of the audience she decides to inspect the cellar rather than getting away while Norman has gone upstairs. This is the point where the audience are distressed and annoyed at Lila stupidity.
Lila cautiously moves towards the darkness and the inner depths of the cellar, she finds another door, one that leads to the fruit cellar. As Lila sees the old woman seated with a shawl wrapped over her shoulders, a bare light bulb burns above. The audience are patiently waiting wondering what’s going to happen. Lila call’s her name; she touches the woman’s shoulder causing Mrs Bates to slowly swivel round so Lila can get a good look at her face. At this point the Audience are gasping in shock and frightened at the sight of a rotting corpse. Lila screams swinging her arm back in horror.
Her hand strikes the hanging bulb, and the remaining scene id lit by strobe flashes as the bulb swings back and forth. This creates a spine -chilling atmosphere, to add to the surprise for Lila a Woman burst through the door, a manic look on her face and a knife raised in her hand. This is where the audience think they know what’s going to happen, which for them starts to get boring. Until before the woman can get to Lila, Sam appears and starts to grapple with her. The attackers wig falls off after rough contact with Sam, next comes off the dress revealing none other then Norman Bates!
This is where we hear the searing violin sounds of the shower killing reprise as we gaze back at his mother whose wrinkled, mummified flesh thinly coats her facial bone. In the hollow of her eyes the swinging lamp throws shadows that dance against the inside of her skull and together with the skeletal grin; animate the illusion of mad, mirthful response to the scene before her. The same high pitched melody that played when indicating the end of Marion, the end of Arbogast now played when indicating the end of Norman.
The last scene we see is the last scene Hitchcock has put together all the pieces and explains what happened. It is there for the closure. In this scene the psychiatrist Dr Richmond answers All of Sam and Lila’s questions Things like Why Norman did those things, he tells them what Norman did in his past the psychiatrist basically implies they Norman has Schizophrenia. One of the last things we see is Norman/his Mother starting to talk about her Son and how she wouldn’t harm a fly, at this point Norman looks up towards the Audience he grins menacingly, his smile somehow begins to morph into his dead mothers grin.
The final shot of the movie is Marion’s car being pulled out from the swamp. The conclusion I personally think the movie had a gripping plot; it was a quirky story about lust, Jealousy and one esoteric phenomenon. Psycho will have your mouth open, eyes Fixed and speechless simply Flabbergasted! My favourite sequence was the shower Scene as I was shocked and surprised, that movie could kill off what seemed the Main character so soon into it.
I preferred this scene as it was planned very well and the graphics for an old 1960s film were very well done, the way Marion acted, all her movement and reactions seemed realistic. Studying Psycho has made me look at differently, I analyzed the scenes better and I payed attention to small details. My favourite film would be a horror movie or a comedy as I like the gripping plots, and some movies are very funny to watch. An example of my favourite film would be Scary movie as it’s very funny and amusing to watch.