Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Review on Psycho

Review on Psycho (1960)

This film was intended to be an average grade film, but instead became successful as explained in a review on Film4. 'Hitchcock approached this as a quick, cheap production - using the crew from his TV show to knock off an adaptation of Robert Bloch's moderately successful, pulp fiction novel. The result was a superb thriller unlike anything he or anyone else had ever done; one that continues to have a profound influence on countless filmmakers.' (Film4, 1960) Its popularity is the shower scene which appears gruesome, but we don't actually see the knife penetrate the skin as mentioned by Roger Ebert in a review on Chicago Sun-Times. 'Seeing the shower scene today, several things stand out. Unlike modern horror films, "Psycho" never shows the knife striking flesh. There are no wounds. There is blood, but not gallons of it. Hitchcock shot in black and white because he felt the audience could not stand so much blood in color.' (Ebert, 1998) What Ebert is saying is that to keep the horror level down enough so it would be tolerable by the audience Hitchcock shot the film in black and white so no red blood and gore could be seen. The shower scene makes you use your imagination into thinking she was being stabbed although this is not actually seen.

 Shower Murder Scene

This film has a Freudian connection as explained by Autumn Miller on Associated Document. 'First, the film, like psychoanalysis, attempts to piece together fragmentary parts into a coherent whole; in order to achieve this whole identity, the film—like psychoanalysis—both look to the unconscious as an answer to the problems encountered consciously. Second, the film's mis-en-scène, like Freudian slips of the tongue, provides clues to unconscious drives. Third, in psychoanalytic style, the film analyzes both the psychotic behavior of its main character, and the neurosis of the viewing audience. Finally, the film parallels psychoanalytic theory in its difficulty with presenting the female character as anything but tangential to the male character.' (Miller, 2009) What Miller is saying is that the murderer in this film has a split personality, two individual characters melded into one person. In this case Norman Bates and his mother. Norman Bates portrays his mother as his unconscious drives to solve his problems, thus when he is offended by Marion Crane he eventually kills her in the unconscious state which is his mother, which he could not do as Norman Bates. Neither of these characters are self aware of each other, but only in the unconscious mind. So even though Bates was the murderer he is also a victim of his own mind, his mother.     

 Norman Bates & Marion Crane


Figure 1. Hitchcock, Alfred. (1960) Psycho [Film Poster] At: (Accessed on: 09.02.11)

Figure 2. Hitchcock, Alfred. (1960) Shower Murder Scene [Screen Cap] At: (Accessed on: 09.02.11)

Figure 3. Hitchcock, Alfred. (1960) Norman Bates & Marion Crane [Screen Cap] At: (Accessed on: 09.02.11)


Film4 (1960) Psycho (Accessed on: 09.02.11)

Miller, Autumn (2009) An Analysis of Psycho as a Freudian Psychological Thriller (Accessed on: 09.02.11)

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