In the 1960’s the film, Psycho, was produced by Alfred Hitchcock is
today considered a classic, ‘vanilla’ horror film. During the 1960’s, Psycho
was considered the ‘mother of the modern horror movie’ because the film carried
out issues such as adultery and parricide. Hitchcock, along with the issues of
adultery and parricide, wanted to control the fear he was registering into his
audience. Color television came out in the early 1950’s, while Psycho came out
in the 1960’s. Hitchcock made a bold decision to create his film in only black
in white to manipulate his audience, making them more sensitive to distress.
During the film, Hitchcock makes critical film choices, such as camera angles
and lighting, that control his audience into believing a certain situation is
more fearsome than it actually is. For example, as the main character, Marion,
is driving away from her home, she pulls over to take a quick nap but turns
into a slumber. A policeman is suspicious of Marion though the audience is
convinced Marion is good person with reasonable intentions for her actions.
Throughout the scene there are many camera angles. For example, when Marion is
first awoken by the policeman, the camera is pointed from the policeman’s point
of view offering an understanding as to why the policeman is raising his
suspicions. Shortly, Marion is acting anxious and this alerts the policeman to
question her and ask to view her license. The camera angle then changes to
inside the car to depict Marion’s face and the stress she feels of being
questioned by the policeman. This creates a sense of hope for the audience that
the policeman will leave along with a feeling of distress of the possibility of
Marion being caught with stolen money. This is primarily used to make the
viewer fear for the safety of the main character. The last camera angle in this
scene, is as Marion is driving away, you notice the policeman is following her.
This creates suspense as the audience may be questioning why he’s following her
even after she’s proven nothing wrong. The camera then switches to open road,
allowing a sense of the fear for the unknown.
Throughout the film,
Hitchcock produces specific lighting techniques to set the scene. For example,
when Marion arrives at the motel, anticipation is high due to the location of
the motel being in isolation while regarding the gothic mansion on the hill
makes the location threatening. As Marion views the mansion, the audience
notices there is only one room lit. This implies to the audience that the
mansion is not an inviting place. The audience along with Marion, proceed with
caution. The infamous shower scene is shown when Marion appears in the shower
as defenseless, shown with an abundance of light to almost create a sense false
safety. This concerns the audience for the character’s well-being. As the
psycho, Norman, murders Marion, he is interpreted as a dark shadow to allow the
suspense of the audience to find closure into who the murderer is. The scene
closes with a close-up of Marion eye with bright lighting, to display her young
life being stolen. Throughout
the film, Hitchcock starts to reuse lighting techniques in certain situations,
this is needed to create high anxiety and alarm amongst the audience. Though,
rather than the majority of the film being in darker lighting, Hitchcock plays
on the idea of false security by exerting onto the characters’ brighter lights.
This gives the idea that the character is safe from harm, allowing the audience
to relax, making them vulnerable for terror to come when they least expect it.
Throughout the film, Hitchcock incorporates the use of lighting and camera
angles to affect his audience and pave the road for future horror films.