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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    TAC American Film Festival

    Psycho is a masterpiece of suspense and horror – Alfred Hitchcock was a genius, Bernard Hermann’s theme scored, Anthony Perkins was perfect. The screenplay, acting, continuity, camera angles, lighting, and music are all reasons why Psycho is a movie list favorite. There is no other film like it and there never will be.

    Before the first shot appears, the music grabs you and puts you into an emotion words cannot describe. It is a strong foreshadowing introduction. Bernard Hermann’s theme plays throughout the film, and climaxes at the most shocking times. The combination of the music and visual sequences of the infamous shower scene was so powerful; it elevated the film to legendary status by its first audience. It remains the number one reminder of any film. Hitchcock’s style of direction to plan out each scene before it was shot. He builds a film by including all the details that keep the story consistent and visually interesting. The choices of camera angles enhance the narration by a consistent point of view, as well as having a great understanding of light and shadows.

    If any other actor were chosen, Psycho would not be as good. Anthony Perkins was Norman Bates in all respects, because his whole body and voice became the character. Until Norman cleans up Marion’s murder scene, Perkins does not hint to his character’s problems, except for some minor word fumbles and an over anxious attitude. The smile on his face after the car sinks into the swamp is so creepy there is no way someone could lose attention.

    The rest of the story depends on this character and Perkins’ projections. At the very end, when he is sitting in the interrogation room, we see Norman’s expressions while listening to the mother’s voice, and it hammers the final nail into the film’s progression of disturbances. Anthony Perkins’ performance as Norman Bates is so unbelievably amazing it is the only role most people remember him for. If you research the International Movie Database web site, he is listed in many movies for a variety of roles. As Chaplain Tappman in Catch-22, he shows off his surprisingly great comedic abilities; the first 45 minutes of that film is some of the best in cinema history.

    Marion was a metaphor for how one can embody a balance of good and bad, and criminal and victim, reflected in clothing and the situation. At first she is dressed in white and talking to her boyfriend about their secret relationship. Although dressed innocently, her situation considered for the time was not. Later in her own room, wearing black lingerie to be covered by a modest dress and carrying a black bag, she is no longer innocent, taking $40,000 and running away. As Norman watches her get ready for a shower, she is still wearing the black lingerie, but has become innocent as the unsuspecting victim.

    Norman was a metaphor for how one can be in a constant struggle of extremities, reflected in the conversations he had with his mother. In one body he was two minds – bad and good, criminal and victim. Norman was a most introverted and nervous man, whose deeper feelings were only brought out by his mother’s voice. He could only be a good victim for so long until his mother made him a bad criminal.

    Psycho is essential to American film history and for any movie buff. The story it tells still relates to today’s audiences and still has the power it possessed when it first premiered. There is no other suspense or horror film that is as powerful or influential as Psycho. Everyone knows who Norman Bates is and can visually picture the reference to a Bates Motel.

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