Year 10 Film Study

By Ruby Thomas


Robert Bloch- A prolific American writer, particularly in crime, horror, fantasy and science fiction. Best known as the writer of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.

Auteur- A filmmaker who holds complete control of all elements of production, therefore ideas of story being consistent with all aspects of communication used.

Film Genre- One particular film genre will have similarities in narrative elements from which a film is constructed.

Alfred Hitchcock- English film director and producer. Best known as the 'master of suspense' from his many pioneering techniques used in the suspense and psychological thriller genres.

Mise en scene- The careful arrangement of the props, decor, lighting and actors in one particular camera shot range.

Misogynist- Someone who despises or is strongly prejudiced against women.

Ominous- Threatening.

Sadistic- Gains pleasure from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others.

Sinister- Giving the impression that something harmful or evil will happen.

Symbolism- The use of objects to represent ideas or qualities.

Voyuer/voyuerism- Someone who gains sexual gratification from observing naked bodies or sexual acts of others, especially from a secret vantage point.


Character Summary

Marion Crane

Marion Crane, unhappy with her relationship with her boyfriend and generally feeling stuck in her current situation, decides to make a run with the $40,000 she was ordered to put in the bank for her boss. Marion, 31, has a life that revolves around her future prospects in every action. In the film, Marion is constantly torn into making quick, often compulsive decisions in the hope of escaping the life almost decided for her, as well as trying to find some way of establishing a desirable, stable future.

Sam Loomis

Sam Loomis is Marion Crane's boyfriend. Marion's relationship with Sam is the source of much discomfort and instability in the situation she initially finds herself in. Later in the film when Sam is shown hopelessly searching for the whereabouts of Marion, Sam's now lack of knowledge of Marion demonstrates his now removed position from the affairs of Marion. Because of his lack of understanding of her last hours in escape, he is shown to be a much less powerful character than he previously was.

Lila Crane

Although the main female character within the film is Marion, her sister, Lila Crane is the character in which we learn most about the mystery surrounding the murder. Lila's deep love for her sister is what allows her to do such courageous acts to find exactly what happened to her sister. In many ways the uncomfortable truths Lila finds about her sister (such as her dishonest streak that leads her to stealing the money) bring Lila closer to Marion with this understanding.

'The Real Story'

It is the true story of Ed Gein that inspired the production of Psycho. Ed Gein is described as a quiet and shy young man. Gein grew up with his older brother Henry, a drunken father George, and a religiously fanatical mother, Augusta. His father, who was despised by his mother, died in 1940. Gein looked up to his brother Henry, who is said to have died in a bushfire in 1944. However, it is rumored that he may have been murdered by Ed.

The following year, it was his mother's death that left him devastated and truly alone. The loss of his only source of love, friendship and simple company drove him absolutely insane. Ed Gein still had a strong devotion to his mother even after her death, but the loss of the benefits in which she provided him with resulted in his newly discovered fascination with crime magazines and anatomy books.

Gein also enjoyed babysitting children, as he felt much more comfortable in their company. Ed Gein felt so much at ease that he often let them see his vile handiwork: his collection of body parts, including human heads. Gein was considered much of an outcast and was not imagined to be capable of such heinous acts.

On the morning of November 17, 1957 he was spotted loitering outside a hardware store. The locals knew something was wrong as Mrs. Worden was yet to open the shop. The neighbors peeked through the glass door, only to see a pool of blood on the floor. The police were then called and arrested Gein.

Later that day, the police arrived at Gein's property. It was a town of hunters, and it was expected that people would posses gutted carcasses. However, the reality did not become fully apparent until the policemen that it was not a deer, but the headless body of Mrs. Worden. Of course, Mrs. Worden's body was not the only human body sample Ed Gein owned.

Behind bars, Gein was calm and relaxed. He denied murder, but in the pressure of the environment around him he was forced to confess. Not including 10 of his confirmed murders, further investigation revealed that he had dug up bodies from the cemetery. When asked by police, Gein justified his actions as experiments to find how it felt to have female body parts. After many psychological tests, Gein was diagnosed as schizophrenic and a 'sexual psychopath'.


The Bates Mansion is constructed to look mysterious and threatening to the viewer. Situated up on the hill, away from the motel, the house is much less accessible in terms of information about it released to the viewer. As most of the events (such as Marion's arrival to the motel, her murder, and the investigation afterwards by Sam Loomis and Lila Crane) take place at the motel, the audience is not tempted to think of the motel itself to be hiding any information that could potentially answer many questions about the murder, therefore not holding the impression of mysterious. These events shortly before and after the murder are completely at the motel. However, the audience still has questions to be answered that are not given answers

when the presentation of the story is unfolding in the motel. Consequently, the audience looks toward the Bates mansion for answers towards why questionable events unfold, especially as a result of the questionable incidents at the house, such as the argument between Norman and his 'mother' about Marion staying at the motel.

The Bates mansion is also given an old-fashioned appearance. This appearance gives the viewer the impression that the house probably holds a significant history, especially involving Norman and his relationship with his mother. With this impression, the audience then knows that knowledge of the 'mysterious' house would lead to insights about Norman, and the possibilities involving the murder.

The audience's concept of the Bates mansion can result in the idea that it is almost an alive figure within the story. From the mansion's control over the audience's impression of Norman and the mystery of the murder, it can be seen as a force that is not just a 'thing', but also a very influential 'character' within the film.

Twisted Tunes

The Famous Shower Scene From "Psycho"
Of Bernard Herrmann's soundtrack to Psycho, Hitchcock said 33% of the effect of Psycho was due to the music. In relation to the shower murder scene, the music is used to add effect to the specific camera pictures shown at a particular time, in order to highlight a specific feeling Hitchcock felt the audience should feel alongside the film itself.

Herrmann's soundtrack to Psycho was composed only for a string orchestra as a result of Psycho's low budget. However, Herrmann thought that the single tone colour of the all-string soundtrack was appropriate in relation to the black-and-white cinematography of the film. This correlation between the cinematography and music of the film was important because it put focus toward how a more refined visual production (how Psycho was only produced in black and white so that the audience's attention would be more directed toward things other that colour- i.e lighting, camera angles) put together with a refined soundtrack (only strings so that the audience's attention would be more directed towards the single series of tone colours, rather than the broader, less specific spectrum of the entire orchestra) would increase the audience's understanding of Hitchcock's vision.

The main title music, a tense, hurtling piece, sets the tone of impending violence and returns three times in the soundtrack. Though nothing shocking occurs during the first 15-20 minutes of the film, the title music remains on the audience's mind, lending tension to these early scenes. Herrmann also maintains tension through the slower moments in the film through the use of repeating this recurring, staple part of the piece.

Within the shower scene, not only is the staple tune of the film used to its climax, but the sounds of birds are also used. The association of the shower scene music with birds also communicates to the audience that it is Norman (the stuffed bird collector) who is the murder rather than his mother.


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The shadow of norman bates

The Shower Scene

The Famous Shower Scene From "Psycho"