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Thoughts in motion for Media Studies & H.O.C

Psycho: Norman and his prey

Filed under: Class blog posts — Natalie Bernabe at 5:54 am on Friday, November 11, 2011

This particular film is known as one of the most scariest films in history, and we can see why. No one expected anything that was shown. Alfred Hitchcock made it his personal mission not to spoil the ending or even plot, just some outline of a murder in his teaser trailer. So bent on having the audience enjoy the full experience of the movie, no one was allowed entry to the film in theaters if they arrived late. The main appeal to the terror one felt  in Psycho was that it took you by surprise; it was unexpected.

The actual murder scene for me wasn’t especially terrifying, I was more creeped out by Anthony Perkin’s performance of Norman Bates, and how a seemingly normal looking man could be someone sinister underneath. The references to his violence and obsession over women (or lack thereof) were subtle and yet pointed straight at you! Norman was, just like this statement, a contradiction as well. He was not someone a person could relate to, and Marion Crane’s glances at his face and quiet stares showed us that, although looking perfectly normal, there was something off about him, for example, his hobby of taxidermy, which is the stuffing of birds. These birds were not in nice positions that made them look ornamental, but were a bit creepy to look at, such as the raven’s profile leering at you, or the owl in flight (in a hunting-like pose), all giving off this feeling of domination and inferiority.

This is shown all the more apparent with the scene where Norman Bates peeps at Marion Crane. When he is entering the room, he is not going right into action, but rather contemplating his every move. His movements are deliberate, like a predator stalking its prey. We see the owl in flight right by his head; as if verifying this assumption. He picks up the portrait off the wall where Marion Crane is on the other side of. I always wondered what this portrait was, as the shot was so fleeting; I could only see the figure of a woman. So, I researched and found that it was called Susanne and the Elders, which unfortunately i was unable to pinpoint which exact artist drew Psycho’s version; a painting depicting a fictional character who is spied on by two Elders who try to force themselves on her by threatening her, which was derived from an article called “Psycho Redux” by Donato Totaro.  The act of peeping is invading one’s privacy in secrecy, she was literally being spied upon. It was as if he was stalking his prey.

This was the whole underlying factor behind Norman’s seemingly normal face, he was this sinister beast that looked for his next victim, although it should be only normal sexual desires, however, he does something that is in fact sinister; which is peeping. Also , peeping with the intent to act upon it. The fact that he never actually raped the women he killed was interesting. It really made it seem as if ‘Mother’ was truly jealous and killed his potential ‘partners’ before anything actually happened.This was extremely interesting overall to see the emotional state that Norman’s mind was in when going after Marion. This was, other than the shower scene, one of the most influential and more explanatory scenes to Norman’s state of mind. not only that, but the slow cinematography that gripped us and emphasized this.

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   Daniel Min

November 12, 2011 @ 12:43 am

Hobby of Taxidermy, nice!! I like how you described the stuffed birds as something to be disturbed by.


   Jeen Kim

November 13, 2011 @ 8:07 pm

I agree, the birds do give off a feeling of domination and inferiority.


   Erickson Bryan

December 15, 2011 @ 7:27 pm

This was my first time seeing this film so the things you pointed out i really didnt understand the meanings of the birds. The birds creeped me out though so I had a feeling this guy was up to something. Another reason i thought something was weird about Norman why does this man run a motel all by himself. The horror I agree with you seem to be he was crazy enough to dress as his mother to show jealousy of these women

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