Psycho 1960, Hitchcock – Shower Scene

This is the scene in the film where Marion Crane, played by Janet Leigh, gets brutally murdered by a mystery woman. The scene is one of the most iconic murder scenes in history. In the 1960s you were not able to show such shocking or gory scenes, so Hitchcock has to come up with some artist ways to show the brutal attack without actually showing the knife going in her of any nudity. He achieved this with different camera angles, sound effects and the visual of blood.


MOVIECLIPS, 2011. The Shower – Psycho (5/12) Movie Clip (1960) HD [22 October 2015]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WtDmbr9xyY

The Frame
Hitchcock decided to use a 50mm camera to shoot most of the scene because it didn’t distort the images and he wanted the audience to feel like they were actually there. This one scene took 7 days to film and over 70 different camera set ups. Shooting from all these different angles meant that the lighting set ups would also have to be constantly changing to get the right effects. The camera angle that stood out to me was when the camera is looking straight up at the shower head because the camera is completely surrounded by water, giving an enclosed and claustrophobic feel. The shower head had to be specifically made so that there was room in the middle for the camera to be positioned without getting wet. The camera follows the blood into the drain to show the dramatic loss of blood and how it spirals down, just like her conscious and life is spiralling away. Another spiral is used when the camera slowly turns as it zooms out from her eye, this could also be a reflection of how the situation spiralled out of control and how she is now losing complete control of her life.

Sound/Music
There is no music at the beginning, but just sound effects of whatever she id doing, like shutting the door or pulling the shower curtain shut. This silence could be a way of building tension, because if for example there was some more upbeat music in the background it would completely change the atmosphere in the scene. The shower noise is quite loud and drowns anything else out, to me this part of the scene seemed too quite and still for something not to happen, which built the suspense. When the murderer opens the curtain very striking, piercing music starts to show panic and shock. This music is quickly followed by a loud, painful scream by Marion who is clearly in shock and disbelief of what she is seeing. This intense music and screaming continues throughout the attack as she gets stabbed to death, making for a very graphic and horrifying scene! You can hear the sound the knife is making as it going into her body; this was actually made by stabbing a melon to get the exact sound Hitchcock wanted. When the murderer leaves the music suddenly changes to slower, slightly quieter music, but still with a dark and sinister feel. The music gets lower and lower as she slowly slides down the wall to show she is losing consciousness and her life. When she collapses on the floor the music completely stops and all you can hear is the shower in the background which I think shows the stillness and shock of what has just happened.

Colour/Light
The whole scene is shot in black and white, possibly because this is the effect that Hitchcock wanted or possibly because it was cheaper and he was funding the project. The lighting looks artificial but it doesn’t look very dramatic. I think it was supposed to reflect the lighting someone would get in their bathroom which would be lit evenly from above. The murderer slowly approaches in a blurred silhouette and then a when the curtain opens she is a very striking and clear silhouette, showing no facial features. I think this is so that the audience can interpret the murderer to look many different ways and be different people.

Mise En Scene
This was the first main strain film to show a toilet in a scene, I think,  because they were scene as dirty and not glamorous. When Marion first gets into the shower she seems very relaxed, happy and content. She has a big smile on her face when she turns the shower on and seems to be enjoying washing her body and hair. When the murderer draws back the curtains her facial expression is very exaggerated and you see total fear come over her face.
1960-PSYCHO-0011
N.O.A.H, 2012. Psycho (1960). In: Home of the Homeless. 20 February 2012 [22 October 2015]. Available from: http://charlie-soffe.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/psycho-1960.html

You see a huge knife in the murderer’s silhouette which show that she is going to try and stab her. You never see the murderer’s face, but some camera angles show details of her hair and outfit from behind to give you a clue to who the murder may be. The silhouette also suggests she is a woman because of how her hair is tied up. Marion struggles to stop the murderer stabbing her by covering herself, turning quickly and pushing her away, however she quickly gives in and looks like she is putting her hands up, as if to say that she will not fight back anymore. I think it’s effective when the shot shows her hand clawing at the wall but slowly sliding down because it shows how she is slowly losing consciousness but is still struggling to stay alive. She slowly reaches out to the shower curtain to help pull herself up, which could be a metaphor for her stretching out for her life. However she breaks the curtain and suddenly drops to the floor in a very awkward and uncomfortable looking position with her head and neck pressed up against the floor. The blood shown at the end spirals into the plug socket which could reflect how the situation spiralled out of control. It didn’t matter what colour the blood was, but the consistency was key. After experimenting with different products like fake blood and ketchup, Hitchcock decided on using Bosco’s chocolate syrup as it flowed and dispersed through the water just like real blood would do.

Sequence
When Marion first gets into the shower the camera moves very smoothly and the shots are long and slow; I think this was to give a relaxed and calm atmosphere. When the murderer is seen entering the room, the camera stays in the same place but slowly moves in to focus on the murderer. This very steady and slow camera movement built up tension and kept the audience in suspense of what was going to happen next. When the murderer starts attacking her the camera shots quickly speed up, showing many different angles and closeups. There were over 90 shots used in the 45 second attack. The camera shots slow right down again when she slowly dies and the camera shows more wide shots.

Resources:
MOVIECLIPS, 2011. The Shower – Psycho (5/12) Movie Clip (1960) HD [22 October 2015]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WtDmbr9xyY

CINEFIX, 2015. Psycho Shower Scene – Art of the Scene [22 October 2015]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNYpzpNA_AE

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s