Saturday, 7 July 2018

Psycho (5 Stars)

This is another of the films that I have on DVD which have remained unwatched for more than eight years. It's difficult to understand why. Maybe it's because this is a film that's most effective the first time it's watched, so it's better to leave a long time between viewings?

I consider this to be Alfred Hitchcock's greatest film. It's much better than "The Birds", another fan favourite of his, which I consider to be overrated. "Psycho" is perfect in the slow build up of suspense, right from the very beginning. Even before Marion Crane enters the hotel the scenes with the policeman and the used car salesman are terrifying. It's so easy to sympathise with her. She's a good person at heart, but she's tempted when a large amount of money is entrusted to her. Before you say, "What! It's only $40,000", remember inflation. I just checked online. $40,000 in 1960 is worth $397,000 today, almost ten times as much. That's enough money to tempt anyone.

The only small fault I have with the film is the extended explanation by the psychiatrist at the end. He spends five minutes explaining something that was already obvious to me and most other viewers. It could have been reduced to a single sentence. I don't understand why Hitchcock needed to slow down the film at the end. He could have cut to the final credits while our hearts were still pounding.

I've been told that this is a film studied in film schools as an example of good movie making. I can see why. Alfred Hitchcock was a master of his art. The cinematography emphasises what's happening. His use of close-ups and unusual camera angles draws the viewer in. It's something many other directors have imitated, but rarely as effectively.

I expect all of my readers have seen "Psycho". It's a film that's difficult to avoid when you're growing up with a television in your house. Watch it again, especially if it's been years since the last time. Try to forget what you've seen. Try to experience it as a new film. That's what I did today.

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