|Figure 1, Movie Poster|
In Psycho Hitchcock plays with the way we watch films as we would usually expect to see the main character at the start and follow them until the end. In psycho however we are introduced to Marion at the beginning and thus led to believe that we will follow her throughout the entire film. On Marions journey she stops at the Bates Motel and this is when we meet Norman Bates. The way Norman is introduced, through a conversation with Marion after she overhears Norman's mother shouting at him, is key in helping the audience recognise him as important. 'Hitchcock's care with the scenes and dialog persuades us that Norman and Marion will be players for the rest of the film.' (Ebert, 1998). This is then abruptly challenged when Hitchcock kills her off not long after and only a third of the way through the film, leaving the audience confused as to who they should be watching. That's when we return to Norman Bates, a character the audience immediately recognises as the next protagonist, or perhaps in fact the true protagonist, of the film. 'Hitchcock is insidiously substituting protagonists. Marion is dead, but now (not consciously but in a deeper place) we identify with Norman--not because we could stab someone, but because, if we did, we would be consumed by fear and guilt, as he is.' (Ebert, 1998).
|Figure 2, The parlour|
|Figure 3, Marion's eye|
Normans conflict is later explained in the last third of the film, as the psychologist is called in to detail what's wrong with him. Hitchcock's decision to have the psychologist explain the film is one that many have brought into question citing that he 'marred the ending of a masterpiece with a sequence that is grotesquely out of place.' (Ebert, 1998) as it is 'an anticlimax taken almost to the point of parody.' (Ebert, 1998). However there is some merit to the explanation as it can have 'a profound place in the schema: the doctor can diagnose and explain a phenomenon that he’s seemingly powerless to foresee or cure. There’s no redemptive ending, no love story that conquers all, no promise that such ills won’t be repeated.' (Brody, 2012).
Figure 1, Movie Poster - http://www.bernardherrmann.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/psycho-4.jpg
Figure 2, The parlour - http://nofilmschool.com/sites/default/files/styles/article_wide/public/psycho_3.jpg?itok=7hdpUTP5
Figure 3, Marion's eye - http://www.leninimports.com/psycho_photo_11_new.jpg
Brody, Richard, 'The Greatness of "psycho"' (2012) - http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/the-greatness-of-psycho
Ebert, Roger, Psycho (1998) - http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-psycho-1960
Monahan, Mark, Psycho, Review (2015) - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/filmreviews/11025424/Psycho-review.html