Hitchcock brought us such classics as ‘ The Birds’ and ‘ Shadow of a Doubt’. He used a new innovative style of directing never before seen, and ‘ Psycho’ really shows this, using Fetishitic Scopophilia, amazing scenes of montage editing, and is one of the most main stream films to have killed off the main character (Janet Leigh) – in some ways, a film revolution. ‘ Psycho’ was shot in 1960 with the likes of Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh and other great actors in the amazing ‘ all star’ cast that all added to make this film a great success.
I am going to study all aspects of the lighting, sound, editing, and mise-en-scene to find out just what exactly Hitchcock does to the film language in the ‘ Shower Scene’ to create this amazing amount of tension. Lighting is used not just to light the set, but also to create meaning within the film. The high key lighting is created by as bright backlight and filler light. This gives the bathroom a sense of purity; the light makes it seem more innocent and makes the audience pay attention to every little detail in the room, as it is all easily visible. Low-key lighting in the bedroom is made with a low key back light and a similar filler light, which is a more neutral light yet still shows that what she has done is wrong.
There is no filler light on the killer, and this creates a sense of mystery, and his/her identity is concealed. The backlighting of the killer is an enigma code, when he/she enters the room; they are walking from the dark to the light, as there is no filler light, the audience only sees a silhouette of the killer. This creates a contrast between good and evil, white and black, he/she is coming from the evil that lurks in that bedroom, into the purity of the bathroom, almost like Marion (the bathroom) being pure at the beginning, and the bad deed (the murderer) lurking into her life. The non-diegetic music (sound that is laid over the diegesis) when Marion is adding up the amount of money from the $40, 000.
00 she had left was very well fit parallel to her thoughts, as it gave a great feeling of despair and concentrated thought. As Marion goes into the bathroom, this music goes as she has made up her mind to go home, and is no longer worried. All the diegetic sound (the sound in the diegesis) in the room seems to get louder, and the non-diegetic sound (music) gets quieter building up to the attack so as to raise suspense. Closer to the murder, as she slowly dies, the non-diegetic music slowly slows to a stop, almost parallel to her heart. The music that plays while Marion is being murdered is like the knife being used to stab her – screeching like steel and stabbing. The sound of the water running from the shower at the end represents the lack of life – all is dead/silent.
Hitchcock’s uses the camera being voyeuristic, which forces the viewer into a voyeuristic position, looking over her shoulder while she is adding up her loses, and when she is in the shower, taking a peek from every angle. There is a mid shot of her going into the bathroom (showing that she is deciding what to do, here we get distance and we can fully take in her movements. In the bathroom we get close ups of parts of her body, for example, her hand as she flushes the paper down the toilet, or her legs as she gets into the shower. This is the fetishistic scopophilia (the camera being constructed for the male or female gaze, creating the illusion of nudity, in this case, for the male audience as it has sex appeal.
As the camera flicks through all the parts of Marion’s body, it is almost as if you are getting a last look at her body in one piece before she is shredded. Over all, there are three people involved, The killer, Marion and the audience, these are the three camera view points we get in a cycle through each in the sequence of montage editing. However, there is a fourth party involved, almost as if it where the shower itself, looking at the good side of Marion. The Editing in the shower scene, and indeed the whole of ‘ Psycho’ uses innovative editing styles, especially montage editing, which is used to its greatest effect in this scene. The montage editing speeds up with the excitement and slows down as she dies, paralleling the action. Although if not done to good effect, they make a film look very amateuristic, Hitchcock uses jump cuts into and out of Marion’s mouth as she screams.
Mise-En-Scene (everything that the director has put into the frame to enhance meaning) shows that the pictures outside of the bathroom door are of bird predators, such as owls and eagles. Since Norman (the hotel owner) stuffs birds it suggests what has happened/going to happen (as he stuffed his mother). The open suitcase in the bedroom reflects upon Marion’s life – as it has everything that represents herself in it, and at the moment it is wide open, like the way her emotions are open. Film SpecificThe black and white was used for effect (not because Hitchcock was cheap), it makes it feel more realistic and dives you into it more, as the colour does not denote the seriousness of what is happening on screen. ConclusionIn conclusion, I found this to be another classic from one of the greatest directors of all time.
It has everything that a horror-thriller should have, and couldn’t have been made better. With some of the best montage editing of the era, coupled with both amazing lighting and sound effects, and casting the best possible actors for the work at hand. ‘ Psycho’ deserves every bit of fame it gets.