Psychopath- a psychopath is a mentally ill person who behaves violently without feeling guilty. From that simple description from the Oxford dictionary we can already see that the genre of Alfred Hitchcock’s’ film “Psycho” contains a lack of guilt and violence, which leads to horror and suspense. This is a great premise and on this the film is based. The use of a weighted title is just one of the many techniques that Alfred Hitchcock would use to make his film one of the best in its kind. He used a variety of methods to achieve a wide range of emotions and effects throughout the film of “Psycho”. But one of his best-used techniques is the red herring.
The red herring would include Alfred Hitchcock directing the film to mislead the audience into a false sense of security. One of the prime examples of this was the scene where we see Marion running away with the money she had stolen. You see her being followed by the police and trading in her car. By this time we think that this is the main plot but when really it is just the lead up to the scene full of shock, horror and suspense, “The shower scene”.
Another one of Alfred Hitchcock’s many techniques is the use of his music, composed by Bernard Herrman. He would use an orchestra made up of stringed instruments. When the film came up to an important scene filled with suspense, the orchestra played the deafening tones of the screeching stringed instruments playing an un-even tune. You have a long, calm lead up to the main scene and then all of sudden the non-diagetic sounds alarm the audience almost at once (this style of music is further developed in Hitchcock’s films; Vertigo and North by North West).
Hitchcock loved to use irony; we could see this throughout the film. He would add small lines of irony whenever he could. We begin to see most of the irony whilst Marion is in the motel. We have the Traffic officer telling Marion “There are plenty of motels in the area…I mean… just to be safe” When we know that the motel Marion checks into is far from safe. One of the most famous lines of irony in Hitchcock’s film is the line including Norman explaining his mother’s behaviour to Marion. “What’s the phrase ….she isn’t quite herself today”
At the time we don’t know it but you soon realise that mother isn’t really mother at all and Norman likes to pretend to be her. That’s how the line adds a comical and ironic line to the film. Whenever there was a different scene you were almost bound to see a mirror. Hitchcock used a lot of mirrors in a scene that would be of great importance. He would use this technique to show the characters as their images. When we look into a mirror it isn’t actually ourselves we are looking at, it is a reflection. This is what Hitchcock was trying show. He was showing the characters as reflections and not their real identification.
He used this a lot and was one of his recurring motifs. Another one of his recurring motifs was his shots of bottomless depths. This is when you see the camera focusing on a main object that has great importance. The camera focuses on the object then slowly fades away. We see this effect when Norman is sinking Marion’s car with her dead body in it. You see the car in the swamp and the camera focuses on it while it slowly sinks but pauses to create suspense.
We also see a lot of different camera shots; this shows variety. The film starts off with the bird’s eye view coming down on the apartment where Marion is having an affair. We see a lot of different camera shots throughout the film; it gives a good range and shows different views from different angles. That way we are able to see the film in depth and look at the scenes as more then just an audience. With that we feel as if we are actually participating with in the story line.
A mise en scene. This is where everything that we can see in the frame is either deliberate or symbolic. When we see Norman’s office in the motel we see a lot of stuffed birds. We can see that Norman is interested in taxidermy. Which is both ironic and symbolic, as Norman stuffed and preserved his mother and thought as her as a real person. There were a lot of things both in and out the film that surprised people. People were very surprised that the main actress Janet Leigh was killed half through the film.
Normally as we all know the main character is there throughout the film and saves the day, in some films of today the main characters has even been known to come back to life in order to save the day from destruction. But in this film she was killed and rid of just half way through. Alfred Hitchcock didn’t like to be the same as everyone else. He was always willing to try original ideas and was always there pushing the boundaries as far as he could. He wanted his film to be one of the best thrillers ever made and he used just about every effect and technique going to do this.
Through out the film Hitchcock was able to manipulate the audience. There were a few scenes that showed this more then the others. When we see Marion running away with the money she has stolen; we see her been followed by the police and therefore forced to change her car. This is where Hitchcock manipulates the audience into feeling sorry for Marion and wanting her to escape. We feel worried and anxious for her and even though we know what she is doing is wrong, we want her to escape and get away with the crime she has committed.
We see another scene that makes us feel that way, this time though it is a lot worse. Normally with what Norman has done we would want him to get caught. But when he has put a dead women into the trunk of her own car and pushed her into the swamp we want him to get away with it. A huge amount of suspense is created and we all sit there on the edge of our seats wanting the insane Norman to get away with the awful crime.
There are many critical moments in the film, which we now identify as the main scenes. This is because of the original ideas that Hitchcock was able to think up. One of the “main scenes” is the parlour scene. Here we see Marion and Norman talking over a light supper. This is after Norman has supposedly talked to his mother about Marion and that she shouted at him. Marion and Norman sit in the parlour room discussing Normans mother.
Normans uses the famous ironic line about his mother not being quite her self whilst they discuss her actions. He tells Marion that mother doesn’t like strangers and that is why she reacted like she did. He is very quick to protect his mother and he make up excuses for her behaviour. “Its not as if mother were a maniac, a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. Haven’t you?”