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The film “Psycho” was produced in the 1960’s by Alfred Hitchcock. It was called the “mother of the modern horror movie”. Hitchcock wanted to manipulate his audience into fear and loathing, this was achieved by choosing to make the film in black and white rather than using colour to make the audience more terrified. The title of the film itself builds up tension and suspense. Psycho means mad or the one who is mentally disturbed. The title of the film is quite unusual. It has a powerful and deep meaning.
The fear that “Psycho” creates for the audience does not arise from the brutality of the murders but from the subconscious identification with the film’s character. Hitchcock enforces the idea that all the basic emotions and sentiments derived from the film can be felt by anyone as the unending battle between good and evil exists in all aspects of life. The effective use of character parallels and the creation of the audience’s subjective role in the plot allows Hitchcock to entice terror and convey a lingering sense of anxiety within the audience through a progressively intensifying theme.
The famous scene from “Psycho” is the shower scene where Marion is killed. This scene was not only famous for being scary, and psychologically thrilling, but it was also shocking that the main female protagonist was killed off in the first half an hour. The films horror doesn’t rely on gore or blood. Instead the horror comes from the psychological mind, being in a shower, in a place where you are supposed to feel safe, and then being killed in that place. The horror also lies in Marion’s expression and her screams. Although we never see the knife go into the body, we still hear the noises of cutting flesh and the powerful screams of Marion being killed which makes the killing feel real, and would make people cringe at the thought. This again shows Hitchcock playing with people feelings, emotions and thoughts, as he psychologically disturbs them by making them imagine the knife going in and out, instead of showing the audience directly. This I believe makes the scene more powerful, intense and also believable. From the shower scene, the audience believe that Norman Bates’s mother killed Marion. We see Norman take the body, clean the scene and dump the body in a car and then into the river. This again enhances the creepiness of Norman Bates, as he becomes a puppet to his mothers psychotic behaviour. However, when Norman is waiting for the car to drown in the water, Norman smirks and has a devilish grin on his face. This immediately makes people wonder and question Norman on whether he actually likes helping his mother do this, or if maybe he could have been a part of killing Marion.
In her last moments, Marion seems to be reaching for something, perhaps she feels herself slipping from this world and needs to feel a material object to maintain her grip on this world, either that or she could be reaching for the audience as if she is trying to say “why didn’t you help me?” She then proceeds to the floor as low pitch, sombre music starts to play. Her hand finally manages to find the shower curtain and wrenches it from the rail as she topples over the edge of the bath. The scene then shows that one part of the shower that wasn’t white, the tap, the symbol of cleanliness put on a darker purpose, washing away Marion’s blood. This shows that the symbolism of cleanliness can be used to both purge darkness but also to scrub one clean of its life. The final part of this scene begins with an extreme close up of Marion’s unmoving, unseeing and unblinking eye.
The fact that the audience realise that their staring into death is quite unnerving, along with the fact that there appears to be a single tear on her face which shows immense sadness of the scene. One of main reasons of the sadness was because the audience had bonded with her and that she had died leaving so much left to complete.
By the use of different camera angles for example, the close up zoom on the camera curtain which depicts the dark figure holding the knife. This fills the scene with suspense and tension as Marion is not aware of what is behind her and the use of zoom also highlights the fact that something horrifying is about to occur. This is another close up on her hand and a downward tilt which shows her hand slowly falling. This symbolizes her last moment alive as the intruder stabs her to death and this yet again raises suspension as we don’t know who the murderer is. When the intruder faces Marion, the music is suddenly high pitched and very frantic, capturing the pain of Marion being stabbed continuously by the intruder. Explicitly, we see Marion stabbed on her body but there are also some showing the killer attempting to stab her. This is the most horrifying scene as it scares the audience and creates fear amongst them.
One of these shots was in the shower scene and it was an eye level shot of the actual intruder attacking her. This emphasizes the fact that the audience are forced to be put into Marion’s place and it actually feels like the intruder is attacking you which makes it even more scarier.
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