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Media coursework: Psycho

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Media coursework: Psycho How does Hitchcock create and maintain suspense in his 1960s film 'Psycho'? Focus on the build up to the shower scene. The 1960's movie 'Psycho', produced by Alfred Hitchcock, was undoubtedly a groundbreaking and revolutionary film. At the movies release, the aspect of the unbearable suspense had been emphasised from the advertising posters, requesting the public not to disclose the end of the movie and informing them that nobody would be able to enter the cinema after the film had begun. Today, 'Psycho' is often referred to as the 'mother of the modern horror movie' as it is the first horror movie that received so much success. This is most probably due to the variety of clever techniques used by Hitchcock to create and maintain suspense in this outstanding film. These devices include camera shots, music, graphics and dramatic irony. 'Psycho' dealt with issues on screen that had not been shown before and seemed totally unacceptable. Nobody had seen a toilet being flushed on TV before. This was because the toilet was considered a private place and for it to be shown on screen in front of an audience was thought to be rude and uncivilized. Furthermore, it was the first time ever that a woman wearing a bra on screen had been exposed. ...read more.


The usage of different camera shots has been applied to create suspense very cleverly by Hitchcock, particularly during Marion's flee. Our attention is focused on the money, since the psycho has not yet been introduced. The close up of the stolen money helps us to concentrate on it and demonstrates its significance to the events that will follow. The shot then pans to the close up of the suitcase making the departure seem imminent, and makes the viewer feel quite tense, wanting to know what happens next. As she is escaping there are close ups of Marion's face for long periods of time, this shows the changes of emotion on her face such as agitation, confusion and guilt. Seeing the emotion she is feeling also builds up tension, since the viewer wants to know whether or not she will be able to escape. The big close up of the policeman makes him look powerful, an imposing figure and illustrates his authority. The policeman questions Marion's actions, such as why she has been sleeping in her car. This creates tension because we are aware of the hidden money in the car and are anxious to find out whether or not she gets caught. He also takes up a lot of space on the screen representing him to be an obstacle, which Marion has to get past. ...read more.


The audiences own knowledge of the horror genre and the associations made with such gothic buildings encourages them to start predicting the occurrence of an unnerving event. It's positioning also adds to the tension as it makes the house seem more menacing and it is as if Marion is being overlooked. This makes us feel nervous and apprehensive. It is here that we see Norman Bates for the first time, which unknown to us at the time is her killer. The nervous tension is heightened for the audience when Marion meets Norman Bates because of his far from normal behavior. For example, whilst deciding upon which cabin to put Marion in, Norman Bates hesitates. This immediately makes the audience suspicious of him and we perceive him to be an untrustworthy person. Without delay we begin to question his actions', wanting to know what the purpose behind this hesitation is, hence the rise of apprehension. In this scene, some of his actions indicate that Norman Bates may not be completely sane. These include his mood swings, bringing up thoughts about unpredictability. Also he says, 'We all go a little mad sometimes,' hinting his madness because he is indirectly admitting to being mad. Moreover, when asked about sending his mum to 'one of those places' (a mad house), he questions, 'have you ever seen the inside of one of those places,' suggesting that he himself might have been there. ...read more.

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