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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Two Sides of Psycho

Halloween means my once-a-year viewing of Psycho can commence and, as always, it didn't disappoint.  Quite simply, the best movie of all time is a showcase for Alfred Hitchcock's expertise at creating tension and earning his title as the Master of Suspense.

Psycho is a tale of two movies.  There's a duality that runs throughout and although the points below simply scratch the surface of the two sides, these were some very basic points I picked up on while watching the film this time around.  [Obviously, there are spoilers ahead.]
  • Duality strikes from the very beginning with the iconic Saul Bass-created intro with the gray bars pushing their way onto the black screen for a contrast in "color."
  • Marion wears white undergarments when we first see her in the opening scene, but after she steals the money, she's in a black slip.  Even something as simple as the purse she carries shows her "two sides."  When she leaves her job with the $40,000, she puts the money in a white purse.  When she packs to leave town, she places the money in a black purse.  Innocence vs. Guilt
  • This next one isn't necessarily duality (but then that's such a broad term) except that it shows the two sides of Marion so vividly.  She's just bought her new car and there are voiceovers of Marion's boss and the big oil man who's money she's stolen talking about the fact that Marion is now on the run.  The scene begins with nervous facial expressions from Marion which then slowly switches to an incredibly evil smirk.  This scene always gets me every time I watch it.  Truly one of the best moments in the film.
  • I've always found it odd the way she folds the money into the paper when she arrives at the Bates Motel.  I realize this is a stretch when it comes to "duality," but she takes the two piles of money, places one on each side of the paper and then continues folding the paper in two.
  • A lot of reflections (whether they be in mirrors or windows) always seem to be shown when people are either lying or scheming as we see the two sides of flawed characters.
  • And then at 49 minutes in, the biggest moment of duality in the movie arrives where the film shifts from focusing on Marion to putting more emphasis on Norman (or at least the investigation of Norman).
  • At that same moment, we get the duality of life and death.  [Basic, yes I know, but I'm not writing a college essay here, so most of this stuff is borderline obvious.]
  • As we learn from the psychologist at the end, Norman himself was only half Norman.  He was also half his mother.  He was two people in one body.
Seriously basic stuff, I'm aware, but I'm not watching this thing to analyze its every frame...I already did that for an essay in college.

Previous discussions on Psycho can be found below:

And a link to my 2010 Hitchcock Fest where I watched all of Hitch's films post 1930s can be found here.

The RyMickey Rating:  A+

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