4: PSYCHO and narrative innovations...77 unread replies.77 replies.Psychois one of the most written-about movies of all time. Scholars from a variety of fields have analyzed this film from just about any and every angle, as you'll ascertain while researching and writing the first essay for this class, due next week.While Psychofeatures notable sound, editing, and cinematography, its narrative methods were groundbreaking. I want to start by clarifying how Hitchcock masterfully narrates in ways that made this film as shocking as it was, then I'll open it up for discussion.Let's start with the second scene of the movie, since you guys arealready discussing the opening. From the rent-by-the-hour motel room, we go to Marion's workplace. (Anyone catch Hitchcock's cameo? He's standing in front of the real estate office Marion works at!) There we meet her colleague (the other secretary is Pat Hitchcock, actually, Alfred's only child), her boss, and a wealthy, arrogant client buying a house for his newlywed daughter. The client waves a stack of bills in her face and grossly flirts with her.
Earlier we learned that Marion desires to get married, but money is lacking. Here she's having both money and marriage thrown in her face -- even the other secretary mentions her husband and informs us she's married. The worried looks on the faces of Marion's colleagues indicate that they know this is a sensitive spot for her. In this scene we clearly have Marion's back, which we see visually in a shot like this. Mainly we have her back, though, because we know what she wants and is lacking, while this turkey shoves it in her face, humiliatingly so. We are thus positioned to see her being victimized here. And for a fairly noble cause in 1960. Remember, marriage was much more idealized in 1950s America; for a woman, to bean "old maid" was to be a stigma, a failure (unfortunately).
With the money in hand, Marion heads home and there we see her packing and equivocating. She's torn about her decision to run with the money, and we see that written on her face. She ends up stealing the cash, of course, but we also sense that this is a moral dilemma for her; she's not a chronic or born criminal, in other words. And from the past few scenes we understand the pressures on her as well as the obstacles in her path.Hitchcock also lingers on the cash envelope sitting on her bed, fueling the drama.This is one of several "fake" McGuffins in the film. AMcGuffinis something that's isolated in a movie for the purpose of triggering the plot and providing clear character motivation. Viewers are conditioned to now assume that the money is key to this plot, that
it will drive the rest of the movie.Will she and her boyfriend use it to flee and marry? Will she get caught? Will she have a change ofheart and turn it and herself in? In most other movies, Marion's theft would normally be the incitingincident, but here it and the money are a foil of sorts, driving the plot initially but then evaporating into thin air (or the swamp water, in this case).Once she hits the road we get third-person shots of her driving at the wheel from in front of the windshield. Alternating with these shots are point-of-view (POV) shots, from Marion's perspective, looking out the windshield. She sees her boss and thus gets caught red-handed, since she told him she was feeling ill and would go home immediately.The kicker is that we get caught, too, in a sense, since we're