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Norman Bates: the First Psycho

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Although Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller “Psycho” was only created in the early 1960s, his ability to express the psychological battle between good and evil in cinema makes this masterpiece one of the greatest films of all time. With very precise costume design and suspenseful sound, Hitchcock is able to show his audience how the mind can be a weapon to any man or woman who uses it with negative intention. Tim Durks of AMC FilmSite. org wrote that “Hitchcock’s techniques voyeuristically implicate the audience with the universal, dark evil forces and secrets present in the film.

which is apparent from the beginning of the story straight through to the end, Hitchcock uses the element of nondiegetic sound through suspenseful music to deliver this message. He and Musical Director Bernard Herrmann express dramatical changes between the piercingly high to frighteningly low registers, and tempos during the ballad in opening credits and every time there’s a twist that unfolds. As the credits finish, the music falls into a low registered melody and continues to do this after drama has subsided.

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This dramatical change in nondiegetic sound is also brought to light through the manipulation of voices. Like for example, after Marion has stolen the thousands of dollars and the guilt builds in her mind, the audience begins to hear the voices of other characters. The same goes for when Norman is exposed to being a psychopathic killer and hearing the voice of his mother. These voices symbolize the mental breaks when guilt and evil have affected the mind.

Tying into the element of diegetic sound, the second major element that expresses the psychological battle is the costume design. In the beginning of the story, Marion is an innocent, love struck beauty, who is dressed in white undergarments with a white purse. Hitchcock has made Marion’s costume white in the beginning of the film to symbolize the innocence and purity of the character before she commits the crime of stealing the $30,000. This event darkens the character persona and Hitchcock expresses the change by changing her undergarments & purse to black.

With these minor examples of sound and costume, we as viewers can also understand why Hitchcock’s cinematography for this film was shot in black & white. With the film being created in this setting, he expresses people living in the center of black & white which would be considered grey, or people who are stuck between good & evil. A scene that brings these 2 major elements to light is of Norman Bates, awaiting his fate in the Holding Room. As Norman sits on a high chair, he is wrapped in a black blanket that was given to him by an officer.

The officer then leaves the room and Norman is seen in a long shot that slowly zooms into a close-up shot of his upper body. During this zoom in, Norman beings to monologue mentally in the voice of his mother Norma, who has been dead for nearly a decade. As she speaks, Norman’s facial expressions slowly develop from upset to content but are contained by sinister intention. The audience then views an extreme close up shot of Norman’s hand which has a fly on it.

As Norman looks down and the pest, his mother’s voice says that she “wouldn’t even harm a fly”, so he lets the fly be. When Norma says this line, the audience is again looking at a close up shot of Norman, but smiling this time and as the monologue concludes, Norman has a sinister smile on that leads to a still frame of a skeleton on his face. This scene is very important when discussing the formal elements of Cinematography and Sound because we the audience, can identify the oppositions in this scene.

For example, Norman’s long shot in the black blanket, the close-up of the black fly, and the still shot of the skeleton are Cinematographic steps that helped emphasize that evil had consumed Norman as a human being & the monologue of Norma mixed with the subtle music were sound elements that helped emphasize the insanity that has also consumed Norman as a Killer. This scene as a whole, demonstrates the mind consuming negativity resulting in an evil character.

In conclusion, “Psycho” identifies in many ways that the power of intention is so strong that it can redefine a person’s character good or bad. Alfred Hitchcock’s message was so powerful that the film was nominated for 4 Oscars. Although it didn’t win any of the 4, the film itself changed the concept of the thriller genre forever. Hitchcock’s masterpiece has even birthed inspiration to the classic films “Hannibal Lector” & “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, and will continue to inspire many more future films & directors to come. Citation Dirks, Tim “Psycho (1960)” Filmsite Movie Review. Web

Cite this Norman Bates: the First Psycho

Norman Bates: the First Psycho. (2016, Oct 30). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/norman-bates-the-first-psycho/

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