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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 justabout any and every angle, as you'll ascertain while researchingand writing the first essay for this class, due next week.WhilePsychofeatures notable sound, editing, andcinematography, its narrative methods were groundbreaking. Iwant to start by clarifying how Hitchcock masterfully narrates inways that made this film as shocking as it was, then I'll open it upfor discussion.Let's start with the second scene of the movie, since you guys arealready discussing the opening. From the rent-by-the-hour motelroom, we go to Marion's workplace. (Anyone catch Hitchcock'scameo? He's standing in front of the real estate office Marionworks at!) There we meet her colleague (the other secretary isPat Hitchcock, actually, Alfred's only child), her boss, and awealthy, arrogant client buying a house for his newlyweddaughter. The client waves a stack of bills in her face and grosslyflirts with her.
Earlier we learned that Marion desires to get married, but moneyis lacking. Here she's having both money and marriage thrown inher face -- even the other secretary mentions her husband andinforms us she's married. The worried looks on the faces ofMarion's colleagues indicate that they know this is a sensitivespot for her. In this scene we clearly have Marion's back, whichwe see visually in a shot like this. Mainly we have her back,though, because we know what she wants and is lacking, whilethis turkey shoves it in her face, humiliatingly so. We are thuspositioned to see her being victimized here. And for a fairly noblecause in 1960. Remember, marriage was much more idealized in1950s America; for a woman, to bean "old maid" was to be astigma, a failure (unfortunately).
With the money in hand, Marion heads home and there we seeher packing and equivocating. She's torn about her decision torun with the money, and we see that written on her face. Sheends up stealing the cash, of course, but we also sense that thisis a moral dilemma for her; she's not a chronic or born criminal, inother words. And from the past few scenes we understand thepressures on her as well as the obstacles in her path.Hitchcockalso lingers on the cash envelope sitting on her bed, fueling thedrama.This is one of several "fake" McGuffins in the film. AMcGuffinissomething that's isolated in a movie for the purpose of triggeringthe plot and providing clear character motivation. Viewers areconditioned 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 itto flee and marry? Will she get caught? Will she have a change ofheart and turn it and herself in? In most other movies, Marion'stheft would normally be theincitingincident, but here it and themoney are a foil of sorts, driving the plot initially but thenevaporating into thin air (or the swamp water, in this case).Once she hits the road we get third-person shots of her driving atthe wheel from in front of the windshield. Alternating with theseshots are point-of-view (POV) shots, from Marion's perspective,looking out the windshield. She sees her boss and thus getscaught red-handed, since she told him she was feeling ill andwould go home immediately.The kicker is that we get caught, too, in a sense, since we're