Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho Essay

1341 words - 6 pages

An Analysis of the Opening Sequence from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho

Just like a building, a film needs a strong foundation in order to be successful, a foundation which is made up of the starting moments of the film. In Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock successfully uses the opening credit sequence to establish a foundation on which to build an interesting plot, including techniques to elicit involvement by the spectator, and the suggestion of a "Psycho" theme.

A musical composition consisting of quick strokes on tightly wound violins, later used in the famous shower scene, starts to play at the beginning of the sequence. Names begin to slide on and off the screen in a series of horizontal and ...view middle of the document...

" As the panning continues, a slow zoom begins to bring us closer to one of the buildings. The last title appears in the same fashion as the preceding, "TWO FORTY-THREE P.M." Yet another dissolve stops the camera on a rather unattractive wall, slowly zooming in on a window with Venetian blinds drawn down. A cut to a closer view of the window reveals an opening a few inches below the blind in which the camera continues to zoom in on, bringing us into a dark apartment room. Since we have grown accustomed to the bright sun outside, the apartment, in contrast, seems gloomy. The camera pans to the right at the same speed as before, allowing us to make out a couple of blurred objects. Now the picture begins to focus and we see the torso of a shirt less Sam Loomis standing next to a bed where a half-nude Marion Crane lies gazing upward at him. The first words are spoken while at the same time the music comes to a halt. "Never did eat your lunch, did you?" says Sam. With this line a cut places the camera on a close-up of a small table on which lies a water pitcher, glasses, a paper cup, and a wrapped up uneaten sandwich. Marion answers, "I’ve got to get back to the office."

The first half of the opening sequence symbolizes the film’s progress as a whole. We are taken from the broad surface view of Phoenix into the depths of its intricate workings. We go from beautiful daylight to a grim darkness. Furthermore, we move from a public and general view to a most private and intimate one, just as the movie will as it progresses. We even duplicate Norman Bates’s later action of peeping through a hole to see Marion partially nude as we "peep" beneath the blind to see the same woman, again partially nude. Hitchcock successfully uses these opening camera shots to foreshadow later events in the film as well as suggest we are not totally unlike Norman. We too have erotic desires that possess our minds. Hitchcock explains that the line between our "normal" behavior and Norman’s "abnormal" behavior is a fine one, easily crossed.

As the camera zooms in on Sam and Marion, they embrace each other and lie down on the bed. While they have a quiet conversation and continue to caress each other with soft kisses, the camera slowly moves in a circular motion half-way around the room as to not constrict us to only one view of the couple (again fulfilling our erotic desires). They go on to talk about the frustrations of their love life in the dark room. The camera does not anticipate the actors’ actions in the next shot. Marion gets up and a cut is made to a medium shot of her in the foreground dressing while her lover sits in the background by the window (blind still down). Both are in...

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