Alfred Hitchcock has been called 'the Master of Suspense', considering 'Psycho' state how effectively he achieves the element of suspense in this film.

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Lucy Dunhill South-Hunsley 10-1

Alfred Hitchcock has been called ‘the Master of Suspense’, considering ‘Psycho’ state how effectively he achieves the element of suspense in this film.

Alfred Hitchcock is known as the master of suspense. After the shocking triumph of his 1960 masterpiece ‘Psycho’, there was much demand for the classic ‘stalk and slash’ horror film.

The real question is: What is Suspense?

The dictionary definition of suspense is:-

‘1. The condition of being insecure or uncertain 2. (i) Mental uncertainty (ii) anxiety 3. Excitement felt at the approach of a climax’

- Collins English Dictionary

Suspense can be shown in many ways. Music can psychologically affect the way we think of this. The pitch and line frequency of music affects the way that our brain thinks about certain situations. For Example:

If you were watching a horror film, such as, ‘Psycho’ you would be more afraid if the background music was a high pitch shrieking sound rather than if it was a calm pleasant tune.

We associate different sounds with different moods. A piece of music played in a minor key is considered sad, compared to the same piece played in a major key which would then be considered happy.

Hitchcock selected high pitch, shrieking music, which is mostly played in minor keys. This promotes the audience to become terrified as the shrieking symbolizes screaming. By choosing such dramatic and emotional music Alfred Hitchcock has created a gripping and beguiling film.

Hitchcock’s film ‘Psycho’ is about a young girl called Marion who steals $40,000 in hope to pay off her boyfriends debts. She stays the night in ‘The Bates Motel’ and is brutally murdered by an anonymous killer. The story line quickly changes from a thriller about Marion stealing the money to a ‘stalk and slash’ horror film. Marion’s disappearance is investigated by private detective Arbogast who is murdered later on in the film by what looks like an old woman. Marion’s sister                        then sneaks into the house to investigate. She snoops round the rooms until she comes across the fruit cellar where she finds Norman Bates’s mother’s corpse which had been down there for at least a decade.  Norman Bates turns out to have a spilt personality of which he plays both himself and his mother. He is then locked in a mental institution.

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The shower scene is probably the key scene in Hitchcock’s movie. This is the point were the movie starts to divide itself into two separate story lines.

Hitchcock’s moral beliefs are reflected in his films. At the beginning of the film, Marion is seen in white underwear, which symbolizes purity and innocence. During the shower scene this is changed to black underwear, which means to the audience that she has committed a crime and will be punished.

‘In truth, Janet Leigh should not have been wearing a brassiere. I can see nothing immoral about that ...

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