Wednesday, August 14, 2019

How Does Hitchcock Manipulate the Audience in the Shower Scene in the Film, Psycho Essay

Sir Alfred Hitchcock was an English film maker in the 20th century. He was well known for his techniques in engaging with the emotions of the audience and maximizing the feelings of anxiety and fear. Hitchcock, (also nicknamed as the master of suspense) directed more than fifty feature films of which the majority had twisted endings and thrilling plots, including violence, murder and crime. His iconic feature was to always appear in the movie. He was most likely to be seen walking through a busy crowd or across a street in some part of the film he was regarded as the greatest British film-maker and an iconic cultural figure. Psycho was one of Hitchcock’s most famous films. It was made in 1960 and although it originally received mixed reviews it was later re-reviewed resulting in 4 academy nominations. The story is about a young woman who steals a sum of money from her boss and when hiding in a motel she is brutally murdered by the psychotic hotel owner. The film is in black and white to add to the suspense with the music which originally Hitchcock wasn’t going to have. Psycho was considered Hitchcock’s best movie and is an inspiration to most horror films today. In this essay I will be describing the techniques Hitchcock uses to emphasize the fear and manipulate the audience during and leading up to the shower scene. The lead up to the shower scene starts with Marion, (who so far is thought of as the main character) driving down a highway in the busy rain making it almost impossible to see ahead of her. Whilst Marion is driving you soon come across a small lit up sign saying ‘Bates Motel’ Hitchcock uses the effect of the light to make it almost suggest it’s heavenly, this is a reassurance to the audience that Marion will be safe because she’s found somewhere to stay. However when we reach the motel it appear to be deserted until the camera zooms up to a big old fashioned house, with a small shadowed figure on the second floor, that appears to be in the shape of a woman, this at the time is a reassurance to Marion because someone is there who can help her. During this the only sound we hear is the heavy rain which fills the emptiness of the scene. A young man then appears to help her book a room, although he tries to create conversation Marion’s sentences are short, as if to portray she is in a hurry. Hitchcock then zooms in on her when she is writing her signature. We notice that she writes a different second name, this makes the audience shifty, because she’s lying. The cameras zoom onto the man who is introduced as Norman, he hesitates before picking a key, this arouses curiosity in audience as you wonder why he would pick a different room. When Norman is showing Marion the room he opens the windows and is hesitant to go into the bathroom or even say its name. He appears shifty and awkward which once again perks up interest in the audience as to why he is so shifty, you can help but feel a little worried as to why he can’t go into the bathroom. The conversations between Marion and Norman are short and awkward. As soon as Norman leaves the music starts to fill the silence and Marion wraps the money up in a newspaper to hide it, the music rises when this happens which suggests tension which makes the audience feel uncomfortable, as if she were taking a risk. Norman comes back with food for Marion and takes her into a small room behind the office to eat, as soon as you see the room stuffed birds fill the screen giving a creepy affect as if they were all watching you. As Norman talks to Marion he is constantly fiddling with his fingers as if to show that he is nervous, he also stutters some words to add to the effect. The conversation is awkward and Norman seems to be leading most of the conversation. The camera then moves to a low angle where a stuffed bird appears to be looking at Norman as he speaks, he compares the emotions of feeling empty and the light inside to go out to a damp grave which puts his emotions into context. When Marion recommends he takes his mother to an institution Norman leans in and the camera focuses on his showing his facial expression appear as anger, the music starts and his voice starts to rise as he gets angry. He then quotes, â€Å"She just goes a little mad sometimes. † This sentence sends a shiver down the audience’s spine because they assume the worst of that sentence. Questions are asked as the sentence can be interpreted in many ways. At this sentence Hitchcock zooms in on Marion’s face which appears uncomfortable and a little scared. She then rises to appear at a low angle which makes her look bigger and leaves. The camera returns to Norman who is now at a high angle shot, he appears small and desperate when he asks her to stay, you can tell from the camera angle what the answer is going to be. As soon as Marion leaves the music starts and we watch as Norman takes a painting off a wall to reveal a spy hole. We watch as Norman spies on the unsuspecting Marion as she undresses, to the audience this may appear as a typical thing for a man because they can’t help that they’re attracted to women. He then leaves to go back to the house, the music rises and builds up with tension to suggest that something is going to happen, however when the music reaches the highest pitch, Norman turns away, with his hands in his pocket as if to show his anger and energy has gone. At the beginning of the shower scene you see Marion writing calculations for her money however she later rips it up and throws it away. This almost gives the affect of a cliff-hanger which expresses the empty silence. As no-one is speaking Hitchcock emphasizes every sound possible, the opening of the shower rail, the unwrapping of the soap and the sound of the water coming from the shower, he does this to build the tension. For the next minute you see Marion happily enjoying a shower and for this reason you don’t expect anything bad to come after it, the camera moves from different angles and shots to show that she is happy. It then leads onto a wide shot where you are in full view of the shower and the curtain behind her. We see that Marion is at the bottom right hand side of the shower which almost gives the idea of vulnerability and her being trapped at one side because there is no way out if anything were to happen. Although Marion is the only moving thing in the shot you soon see a shadow appearing through the shower curtain, all the sounds are blocked as the water fills the silence and hides any other sounds you might be able to hear. As you see the shadow getting closer and darker tension and curiosity builds the camera slowly zooms into the looming shadow. (This is used by a retractable camera on the back wall. As the camera zooms in closer to the shape you can start to make out a human figure, you can feel your heart racing as you see a hand reach out to draw back the curtain. As soon as you hear the sound of the curtain being ripped back high pitched minor key music starts to reveal a terrifying figure of a women holding a break knife raised in her hand ready to kill. Hitchcock cleverly uses lighting and a low angle camera shot to shadow the face of the murderer so you don’t know who it is that kills Marion, this also adds curiosity to the fear as you don’t know who the murderer is. However the audience can assume that it is Norman’s mad mother. The next 45 seconds involve a brutal murder with sounds affect of stabbing and screaming as you watch the mad mother attack Marion. Hitchcock uses various camera shots and angle to add to the fear by constantly changing the views so you are not fully clear of what is going on, it also adds to Marion’s emotions as she struggles to prevent herself from being stabbed by the woman. At the same time you can also feel the emotions of the mother who portrays anger and revenge through the desperation of her stabbing and how she carries on to stab Marion even though she knows that she would die anyway. Hitchcock also uses a low angle shot which makes the murderer appear bigger and more superior to Marion as if to portray that she has won, and Marion won’t survive, he also uses the high angle shot to make Marion appear smaller and vulnerable. The mother then makes a swift exit leaving Marion to die as the music slows down. The camera zooms in onto Marion’s hand as it slides down the titles, Hitchcock then cleverly adds to the effect of putting Marion at the side of the shot, this almost adds effect to the fear because placing Marion in the centre of the screen may have appeared as quite tacky. The camera shows Marion put all her effect into reaching out to the shower rail as if she’s motioning for someone to help her, but then as the music stops she grabs the hand railing and falls to the floor motionless. The music almost signifies her death and murder, because when the music starts she’s frightened and screaming, thus meaning the music is high pitched but as she slowly sinks to her death the music deepens and slows down, then when she finally dies, the music stops. After that the only sound you are left with is the shower still running, the camera zooms into the drain as you see the darker shades of the water, which is the blood run down the drain. Hitchcock then cleverly zooms right into the drain, then when he zooms out, it reveals the eye of Marion as the camera rotates to reveal her motionless face. This could suggest that Marion’s life has gone down the drain, because she has nothing left. Her body appears motionless and innocent. The scene then ends with a shot viewing the money that was left behind, and the only sound is the shower running in the background. This leaves us at a cliff-hanger because Hitchcock as killed off what we though would be the main character and the $40,000 has been left, and we do not know what will happen to it. In conclusion to the evidence found we can see that Hitchcock used techniques uch as lighting, camera positions and angles, shots and sound to create suspense. He mainly uses music and silences to build the tension in the scene. The silences make the audience feel uncomfortable because this makes them expect something is going to happen. Hitchcock makes the audience expect the unexpected but then does the opposite. For example, he kills the main character off a third of a way through the movie. This adds more fear to ‘Psycho’ because unlike most horror films today, you don’t know what’s going to happen next.

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