05 January 2007

92. psycho

the script for "psycho" is as schizophrenic as its main character, norman bates, and hitchcock is so good at giving the audience what they want, then pulling the rug out from under them, over and over and over, that we never really mind and ride right along with every twist and turn.

the movie starts out as a standard melodrama, with marion crane and her boyfriend wanting to be together, but unable due to financial constraints. so when money gets put almost literally in her lap, she takes it and runs off to him. then marion takes a wrong road in the rain and ends up at the bates motel, a blinking neon sign from out of nowhere. she gets a room and meets cute with a handsome but shy young guy named norman. the script switches genres again. he invites her to eat with him. it could be the start of a romantic comedy. but there's an undercurrent of menace to norman, and, in a stroke of unexpected morbid genius, marion, our main character, is killed.

that shower scene! it is so famous for a reason -- killing a main character and a movie star so early in a film just was not done in those days. the killing seemed to come out of nowhere, after a simple argument between norman and his "mother". and it is fucking vicious -- several stabs, and she's left with her body slumped over, her mouth open on the floor.

technically its marvellous as well. hitchcock uses great suspense and irony in marion being unaware of a shadowy figure approaching her. and the use of sound is great too -- near silence, then those squealing violins. tons of angles and cuts to show confusion and chaos (not to mention, if you look closely enough, tits). and finally, a great metaphor -- blood swirling down the drain with a match-cut to marion's eyes, the life draining out of them.

and then the movie switches genres again. norman deliberately cleans up and we assume still that he didn't do it, and the movie moves to a private dick and marion's sister and boyfriend. it becomes a police procedural. we see arbogast investigating, getting leads, snooping around. then he snoops around a little too much and gets -- again, unexpectedly -- murdered by norman's "mother".

and then the movie becomes something different again. it becomes a psychological drama, an expose of what happened to norman bates and how he ended up so fucking crazy. and just like in real life, we will never know. maybe it is as he says: "we all go a little mad sometimes."

some more than others.


Post a Comment

<< Home