Film Analysis 2 (Psycho)

December 10, 2010

Jonathan Barragan
Medst 144
December 9, 2010

Film Analysis for Psycho

A great movie should never rely on graphics or props in order to get the point across.  This is best shown by the movie Psycho by Alfred Hitchock.  Psycho was released in 1960 and is about a motel owner,Norman Bates, who kills female travelers.  Even though the movie is revolving around murders, there is not too much blood shown or any actual killing, but through use of sound, lighting and camera angles Alfred Hitchcock captures a sense of fear and suspense.  The scene that I think best shows this is the scene in which Norman Bates kills Marione Crane, one of the main characters of the film.

The scene begins with Marione writing down some numbers and then ripping up the paper as slow music from an orchestra is lightly playing in the background and as she sits in a slightly dark room.  The camera stays on the side of her and follows her into the bathroom where she flushes the pieces of paper down the toilet.  This part of the movie was controversial because before this time toilets flushing were never really seen on screen so I can imagine at the time this also helps set the mood for what is about to happen.  The lighting is also brighter as she steps into the bathroom, I almost thought that this could be foreshadowing of her stepping into the light.  During this walk to the bathroom and the flushing there is a use of three different camera angles capturing her whole body, her upper body and just her hand, I believe this quick change of camera angles creates tension.  When Marione flushes the papers down the toilet and the noise of the flushing stops, the background music also stops leaving an eerie silence in the bathroom.  She follows her routine by closing the bathroom door even though she is all alone in the motel room and the camera catches her naked back and then goes to a low angle to her feet when she takes of her robe in order not to show nudity.  When the shower turns on the camera switches angles again from font angle to side view and also of just the shower head, this part feels like an eternity building the anticipation of what will happen next.  When the camera pans out to the opposite side facing the almost see through shower curtains we almost immediately see a shadow of the door opening.  The inability to see who is opening the door also builds on the fear of this scene.  As the shadow gets closer to Marione the camera also zooms leading to feeling that we will see who the killer is but when the shower curtains open the killer is hidden by a very strong shadow where we can only see the outline of his body.  The music also begins to play as soon as the shower curtains are open, the shrieking violin is very similar to the piercing scream that Marione lets out as the camera zooms into her mouths.  The music goes very well with the motion of the killer and his knife as he stabs her repeatedly.  At this point there are so many different camera angles used and jumps back and forth from Marione and the killer that it gives a feel of confusion and disorientation as the killer is stabbing and this lasts for about 20 seconds after the minute and a half of build up in this scene.  During this time we never see the knife actually go into her and we see just a little bit of blood mixing with the water and going down the drain.  As soon as the killer leaves the door, where it is bright enough now to get a good look at the back of what looks like an elderly woman, the music changes from the shrieking sounds to a more tense and slow sounding music.  There are two close ups during this time of Marione’s hand as she tears the shower curtain down and falls down.  The camera then goes from a shot of the shower head to the view of her legs and the water and blood slowly going down the drain, and all we hear is the water pouring down and flowing.  This part of the scene is almost like a relaxing part after so much tension giving you time to go over what just happened.  The camera then goes to the drain and there is a fade out to Marione’s eye and then the camera just zooms out of the bathroom, this is a very powerful part where we see into the eyes of Marione as she is lying dead on the bathroom floor.

There is no way to compare a film like Psycho to a modern day horror slasher film.  The two are totally different but one thing that Psycho shows is that even without props or graphics there can still be ways to capture the attention and keep the viewers in suspense and at the edge of their seat.  Using all different camera angles, close shots, music and lighting helps make this film very unique. I believe that the film as a whole was directed perfectly, from the beginning to the end there are twist and turns, the best way would be comparing it to a roller coaster where the suspense starts at the beginning and builds up to the first drop which in my opinion is the shower scene and then smaller drops after that keep you entertained to the end.

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One Response to “Film Analysis 2 (Psycho)”

  1.   raf modelleri Says:

    Hi there! This post couldn’t be written much better! Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I am going to forward this post to him. Pretty sure he’s going to have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

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