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Analysing Psyhco: the pleasure of fear(TM). How does Hitchcock build tension and create suspense and terror through the language of film?

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Introduction

Analysing Psyhco: 'the pleasure of fear'. How does Hitchcock build tension and create suspense and terror through the language of film? Refer to three scenes in detail. Films were invented in 1895, and Psycho was released in 1960 so films were a recent phenomena. Hitchcock first worked in film in 1920, but this was silent film and he produced captions to go with the picture of the screen. When he made Psycho, colour film had been invented but he chose to film it in black and white. It was going against the current trends of cinema and it was also cheaper. But he used to conceal things and make the scenes on screen look more dramatic and it was very effective. Using black and white made the seeing blood softer for the sense and made the violence stylised. Bernard Herrmann, who composed the music for Psycho said 'I felt I was able to complement the black and white photography of the film with black and white sound'. The music in the film consisted of only string instruments, which were usually used for romantic films not horror - so again Hitchcock was going against conventions again. ...read more.

Middle

She is virtually at eye level with us so we can see her clearly and relate to her, but with Norman we never see his face in full view and we feel cut off from him and as if we cannot relate to him and are uneasy of him. We never see them both together when they have both sat down and are talking; we see most of the scene in shot-reverse-shot where both of them are completely separate from each other. This emphasises the difference between them and the gap between them. We can see Marion's normality and his abnormality very clearly in this scene. At the end of the scene when she stands up to go, she becomes much more dominating of the screen and he becomes to look much more vulnerable because he is smaller and in the corner, so we are reminded that he is also a victim. The next major scene in this film is the shower scene, where Marion, the main character of the film and the one that the audience have come to see gets killed off. Its was shocking to be let into such a private place, as a bathroom in the 1960s and it was even more outrageous then to see the close up of a toilet being flushed. ...read more.

Conclusion

The same angle is used later when Norman carries his supposed mother down to the cellar, to hide from us the fact that she is just a skeleton. In this scene Hitchcock cuts between angles that cause us to feel involved with the characters and angles that are just for observing. This lets us identify with the person under attack but also lets us watch the horror of it. This is like a double whammy effect which causes us to feel frightened and terrified. Hitchcock has directed this film very cleverly and throughout the whole film the audience are in suspense and in other times they are terrified. He has cleverly used effective camera shots and very clever editing techniques such as audacious editing in the shower scene where he created a feeling of confusion, madness and panic. Even at the end of the film when we begin to feel closure due to the psychiatrists' explanation he still makes us feel uneasy when we leave the film because of the superimposing of the mothers skull onto Normans face as the camera moves away from his grinning face. The film ends completely when they are hauling out Marion's car but the abstract bars come across as if shattering our feelings of closure. And the chords at the end do not come to an end. ?? ?? ?? ?? Dina Zaher L5G ...read more.

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