Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, is a film of many genres it may be categorised as a thriller, a romance or a horror. Psycho focuses on the themes of secrets, lies, deceit, theft and above all duality. The film shows us the two sides of the characters, perhaps the most obvious to us as an audience is the character of Norman Bates. However, through the use of metaphors: mirrors and shadows, we also see the theme of duality in Marion Crane
The title credits of the film are very long, and because they are it leaves us wanting to watch the film as we are anxious. While watching the title credits we can anticipate many things wondering what the film is going to be about. For example the high pitch music warns us something terrible is going to happen, and the typography moving from side to side leaves us with a feeling of entrapment. The fact that the title credits are in black and white makes the audience believe that the plot is going to be simple because black and white are two basic and simple colours, however the plot is cunningly twisted and is not very simple.Order now
The opening scene shows us Marion and her secret lover Sam in a hotel room, immediately the audience is exposed to a secret. In this scene Marion is wearing white underwear, white skirt and white blouse. The colour of white symbolizes purity and all that it good in a person. It can also portray that a person, in this case Marion is naï¿½ve. This is because the person could be inexperienced in evil, wearing white also shows innocence.
However, a few scenes later, after Marion has stolen the money, we see her in black underwear. This is a complete contrast from her image in the opening scene, as her underwear colour has changed. When we think of the colour black, immediately symbols of evil and darkness enter us. So when Marion is wearing black the audience realise this change and understand she has done something wrong. It is at this point in the film that we see the first sign of duality. Marion has transformed from an innocent and naï¿½ve woman to someone who has committed an evil deed, by stealing from her work. Hitchcock has portrayed this first theme of duality by using colour symbolism in costume, from white to black.
In the office scene Marion is wearing a white dress symbolising her innocence and loyalty towards her employer. However, this scene provides Marion an opportunity to steal the money. It is in this scene that we are introduced to the characters Cassidy and Mr Lowery. The second time we see Marion with these two characters she is on her way to the Bates Motel, but she is no longer a loyal employer but disloyal and a thief because she has stolen the $40,000. Marion is now wearing all black, again Hitchcock has used colour symbolism to portray duality. Duality is shown here because Marion was loyal but is now disloyal. Also in this scene when Marion is driving we can see through the back window of the car, as an audience we can tell that Marion is leaving her world behind her although at this point she is still a part of that world and has not yet left it.
The theme of duality is portrayed by Hitchcock by the use of shadows. This is shown in the bedroom scene, it is here where Marion decides to leave her home and begin her journey. In the bedroom scene we see Marion’s shadow enter before we see the character herself. This portrays the theme of duality because the shadow is almost representing a character within a character, as it is in the shape of a human but not in the form of a human. Like duality it is two sides to a person presented as one. In this scene there is a close up of the money, which is a white envelope, this contrasts with Marion’s dress which is black. Again Hitchcock has used colour symbolism as well as the use of shadows to portray duality. Throughout the parlour scene Norman is sitting on a small stool, making him seem bigger than his actual size. By sitting on a small stool we see a larger shadow of Norman.
Hitchcock also portrays the theme of duality by use of weather. When Marion is leaving her home the weather is bright and sunny, but before she arrives at the Bates Motel the weather becomes dull, dark and rainy. This shows duality because when she leaves Phoenix she probably has an intention of returning but when she arrives at the Bates Motel she realises that she can not return. This is because she has bought a car and knows that she will never be able to repay the money. Also while she is driving, she hears many
Voice-overs of her boss, Cassidy and her work colleague all worried about her. Marion can not return because she has done a bad deed and feels guilty that people are worried about her. The reason that duality is shown here is that Marion has now made the transaction between the two worlds, the good moral world she left behind and she has joined a world of deceit, secrecy and theft. The first time that the audience see Marion admitting to her duality is when she arrives at the Bates Motel and is signing in. This is shown by her using a false name, indicating that she is ashamed of her true self and wants to be someone else. By giving Marion two names, Hitchcock has allowed her to have two sides therefore making Marion see that what she has done is wrong. Not only does Marion give false name, but address as well. She is creating an entirely new character for herself. In this scene Hitchcock uses identity to portray the theme of duality.
When Marion enters the Bates Motel we are introduced to a new character, whose duality is a lot more obvious towards the end, however we do not find out until the penultimate scene of the film. This new character is Norman Bates. On the outside Norman seems like an ordinary, shy and well mannered man but on the inside he is eaten up by his mother’s death, evil and cunning. Not only is Norman a host, as owner of the Bates Motel, but a killer. He is a son but also a mother, by re-enacting his mother’s thoughts and words. Norman is also a man, by his natural state, and a woman, when he pretends to be his mother. Hitchcock uses a variety of ways to portray Norman Bates’ duality. On such way is in the parlour scene.
Norman is surrounded by sharp and square edges and dim lighting, which is the opposite to Marion, who is surrounded by soft lighting and round picture frames. The shape of a square is cornered and has a specific stop and start point, showing the cut off from one edge to the next. This is a mirror of Norman’s life, because he can cut from person to person, from a host to a killer, from himself to his mother. However Marion is surrounded by circular objects, which are curved and do not have a specific stop or start point. Hitchcock uses the circle to portray Marion because her character has developed signs of duality, such as giving a false name, to cover her tracks. She is confused about where her original moral self starts and finishes and where her new deceitful side begins and ends. In the parlour scene Hitchcock has used shapes to portray the theme of duality.