History of Cinema II
Film Analysis 2
For the second film analysis project I have chosen to analyze a scene from the film Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960). Alfred Hitchcock was the master of suspense and he was deeply influenced by Fritz Lang who directed M which was my first film analysis. The scene I have chosen from this classic film is when Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) watches Marion (Janet Leigh) getting undressed through a peep hole in the office of the Bates Motel. Psycho was a film that was shot in black and white. The lighting in this film shows the contrast between Norman Bates’ different moods especially in this scene. Norman is seen in the dark motel office as he walks over to the photograph that hides the peep hole and he looks into a brightly lit room where Marion is getting undressed, this could indicate the difference between dark and light, evil and innocent.
The scene begins with Nondiegetic music playing as Norman Bates enters the office of the Bates Motel. As the door closes behind Norman, Hitchcock uses a medium shot of Anthony Perkins. Norman Bates pauses for a moment and slowly walks across the office passing a stuffed bird and a window. Bates looks extremely unsure of himself as he walks over towards the wall where multiple picture frames sit. Norman Bates stopped by this wall facing the camera with a stuffed bird on the table in front of him and a stuffed owl perched in the corner of the ceiling above him. He looks down as if he is ashamed of what he may do next, than without moving his head he looks to his right at the picture frame against the wall as if there is something there that only he knows about.
Norman Bates than looks around the room briefly and all of this is being done in a medium shot. He looks back over at the frame and he nervously swallows as he faces the picture frame he looks at it for a brief second with and then removes the frame. As he removes the frame the nondiegetic music slows down becomes significantly less in volume and Hitchcock captures this with a medium close-up over the shoulder of Bates while the viewer sees there is a hole in his side of the wall with a tiny hole inside it with a bright light in it. Norman moves his head close to the hole to look through it, while the director is using a close-up shot of Norman as he peeks in on Marion’s room as she is getting undressed and unknowingly is being watched. While Norman is watching her, the background music picks up in a higher pitch and moves faster, his eyes do not blink as if he is focused, fascinated and fixated on this woman.
The director cuts to the woman changing through the hole with a medium shot of her undressing and then back to Norman watching her with an extreme close-up of his eye fixated o her, scanning her up and down and following her all the while he still will not blink as if he is afraid he will miss a split second of it. Marion covers up with a robe and leaves the view of the peep hole and by her doing this Norman backs away from the hole and reaches for the frame to cover it back up while Hitchcock returns to a medium close-up shot of Bates as he faces the camera and looks around the room once more focusing on something off camera. Norman looks to the right sternly and the music changes as he storms out of the office and up the stairs back to his house as if he is on a mission .
Alfred Hitchcock directed many of my favorite movies of the suspense genre. Psycho shows the disturbance of a man who is a social misfit and in the scene I chose it really showed the viewer the perversion of Norman Bates. Bates was a voyeur who knew that watching her was wrong and you can tell this by the pauses he takes before removing the frame and how he looks around to see if anyone is watching him. There is a hesitation in him because he knows it’s wrong but he can’t control his obsessions, he can’t help but look, he needs to look. This is a classic case of a killer needing to have power over the victim.