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Psycho - 'Shower Scene' Content Analysis (LO1)

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Scott Hayden

on 18 September 2018

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Transcript of Psycho - 'Shower Scene' Content Analysis (LO1)

(Hitchcock, 1960)

This infamous scene rivets the viewer with guilty glimpses that reveal nothing, though many viewers may recall differently, further exemplifying Hitchcock's brilliance for audience manipulation.

This scene also horrifies with its brutal stabbing which is seemingly viewed from the killer's point-of-view.
The vulnerability and nakedness of a common shower as a murder scene is seen as a calculated event meant to involve and effect the viewer to full capacity.
The combination of the close shots with the short duration between cuts makes the sequence feel longer, more subjective, more uncontrolled, more violent than would if the images were presented alone or in a wider angle.
1.The scene starts with a peaceful equilibrium; there is a noticeable lack of sound.

Why do you think this is?

What sort of atmosphere does this help create?
3. Other than sex appeal and appealing to the male gaze, nakedness also carries other connotations appropriate in this context as the character is in fatal danger.

What other connotations does nakedness convey to the audience in this scene?
4.The shot in the shower allows the audience to look over her shoulder
What impression do you think this gives the audience?
4. The character appears to be completely oblivious to the world around her, as is apparent through the use of her facial expression (eyes closed, relaxed).

What effect does this have on the audience?
5. As the character pulls back the curtain and attacks the woman, the tension peaks.

How does Hitchcock bring the tension to a climax here?

What techniques? Think about use of sound.
The music in this scene is dark and sinister and accompanies the knife entering and exiting the character’s body (this also includes a tearing sound)

It conveys her screaming and her agony through its high-pitched violin movements. It has a discordant quality to it, in order to signify the knife’s sharpness.
Although seemingly graphic in nature, the shower scene features only three frames of film showing penetration.

The knife does indeed visibly penetrate the skin by a fraction of an inch, albeit only once, and so briefly (just three frames of film, or about an 1/8 of a second) as to be subliminal.
6. After she has been killed, the music reaches its crescendo and changes from a high-pitched screeching to a low-pitched and disturbing sound.

Why this change in sound?

What does this convey to the audience?
Her hand slides down the wall making a clinging gesture that follows her as she falls.

This in turn leads us to the iconic shot/movement of the slow zoom into the plug hole as the blood flows into it, and then zooms out from the woman’s eye.
7. The rapid editing portrays the chaos in the scene visually, the shots switching from focusing on the arm/knife movement to the girls body or face to create the idea that the knife is entering her body.

Play the 'Editing Terminology Matching Game' in Google Classroom
Unit 26: Film Studies
ACTIVITY (Partial U26/ P1)

Get in to a group of 3-4

Use a camera, a prop, and an actor to create a parody of the 'Psycho' scene to demonstrate an understanding/ application of the techniques you have seen today.

FACILITATOR (The Boss/ makes sure every one does their job)
TIMEKEEPER (Your group have 30 mins to get the shots)
RESOURCE MANAGER (Gather/ return all equipment)
TEAM REP (Stay in touch with me to feed back messages)

We will edit next lesson.
Hitchcock uses the language and structure of film to tell the story to the audience.
8. Why do you think Hitchcock chose to use extreme close-ups in the shower directly before and directly after the murder?
Lecture Re-cap...

Tweet using #bcotfilm
This weeks Twitter discussion...
The sound of the knife entering flesh was created by plunging a knife into a Casaba fruit [an exotic melon].

What is the industry term for a sound like this?
The scene features between 71 and 78 angles, runs for 3 minutes and includes 50 cuts.
This was done by filming the knife being drawn away, and reversed.

In your opinion, why didn’t Hitchcock show more than this?
•To be able to contribute professional comments to the Twitter discussion (more able will Periscope their responses as well)

•Apply terminology in an analysis of the ‘Shower Scene’

•Work to a deadline in a team to capture video evidence of your understanding and application of camera shot techniques

•Review and summarise personal progress on Twitter
2.As the shower turns on, we hear the constant patter of water.

It becomes clear that the female character is going to have more difficulty in hearing anything as the sound of the shower drowns out other diegetic sounds.

What is the purpose of this?
The female character, like so many Hitchcockian leading ladies, is blonde and attractive and was used to create sex appeal to help sell the film, this is also made clear through the character being seen naked.
As the silhouette of a person slowly becomes clearer, the tension in the scene heightens.

Tweet a specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed target (which I will check this time next week)

For example...

'I will finish Scott's MORAL PANIC assignment early so I can get feedback on it before the deadline of 23rd October'

The remainder of the session is reserved for you to develop outstanding work eg Vikki's Written Work, Natalie's improvements, Jim's Report improvements, and/ or Scott's Evaluation.

Please tweet your own target that you will achieve this lesson on to the screen using #bcotplan
To show you how content analysis can be used to examine and deconsruct a text and make us better film-makers
Censorship notes...
DIEGETIC SOUND - sound the characters can hear

NON-DIEGETIC SOUND - sound that as been added by the film-maker
All of your U26 FILM STUDIES work will be stored in Google Drive
Define the term 'CENSORSHIP'
CENSORSHIP is the suppression of speech, public communication or other information which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities or other groups or institutions.
VIOLENCE in the media has been a theme of our recent Unit 6 Critical Approaches lectures so it made sense to continue our introduction to
Unit 26 Film Studies unit today in a similar vein...
(two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect) of shots
alters the meaning
of those shots
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