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Important Relationship in Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock

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Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock was released in 1960. An important relationship in this text is the unusual relationship between Norman and ‘Mother’. This relationship is unusual because although they are two separate entities and Mother is actually dead, there is a constant struggle for control of Norman’s mind and in the end, ‘Mother’ wins. This relationship helped me understand the main idea of madness through the parlour scene, the fruit cellar scene and the police station scene.

The relationship between Norman and ‘Mother’ helped me identify and understand the idea of madness through symbolism, lighting and dialogue techniques in the parlour scene. This symbolism includes the stuffed owls, which seem ready to attack that are placed in the background in a low-angle mid shot of Norman. At another point in the scene, Norman leans forward into a close up. This shot helps support the idea that even though Mother is physically dead, she is alive and threatening to take over Norman’s mind. This can be seen through the lighting of Norman’s face, half-light, half dark, and the dialogue.
“It's not like my mother is a maniac... We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?”
These techniques have been cleverly assembled by Hitchcock to subtly hint at the idea of madness and help us to get to know Norman, but is not yet prepared to reveal the extent of Norman’s madness due to Psycho being a horror film.

The complex relationship helps us understand Norman as a character and the idea of madness in the fruit cellar scene. The director reveals the situation when Lila, Marion’s sister, goes down to the fruit cellar to hide from the murderer and finds Mother’s corpse. During the scene, we see a close up of the corpse. In this close up, the director uses the technique of lighting to symbolise that although Mother is dead, she lives on through her mentally unstable son, Norman. Hitchcock shows this as the light bulb swings with a corpse in the dark and a seemingly alive figure with the light behind her eyes. Subsequently, we see that Mother is alive in Norman when he runs in and screams, “I’m Norman Bates!” while dressed as ‘Mother’. Earlier in the film Marion, who is murdered by Norman, enters the Hotel and is offered milk and cheese sandwiches for dinner, which is often a dish, made for a child’s tea. At the end of the film we understand the significance of this meal.

In the police station scene, the director fully explains the idea of madness through the relationship of Norman and ‘Mother’.
“No. I got the whole story - but not from Norman. I got it - from his mother. Norman Bates no longer exists. He only half-existed to begin with. And now, the other half has taken over. Probably for all time.”
This quote represents the idea of madness. It is supported by the close up shot of Norman sitting in the police station. He has his head tilted down and is smiling. This is where the director uses editing to show the idea of madness. Right at the end of the close up of Norman, Hitchcock makes the picture of Norman dissolve into the picture of the corpse for a split second. This identifies Norman and ‘Mother’ becoming one person and proves that the main idea of Psycho is madness.

Throughout Psycho, the director, Alfred Hitchcock uses foreshadowing to identify faintly and develop the relationship between Norman and ‘Mother’. He also tries to deceive us into thinking ‘Mother’ is a living person. In most cases, this deception has worked because of his clever foreshadowing and several cleverly placed shots. These foreshadowing techniques were lighting, symbolism and dialogue. The director is called the ‘Master of Suspense’ because he is so great at foreshadowing and deceiving us throughout many of his films. I myself find Hitchcock’s mind very strange because of how he treats his cast and crew. During the making of Psycho, Hitchcock placed twelve corpses around women’s offices randomly and waited for the screams. He did this to decide which corpse was the scariest and should be used in the film. This proves just how strange a mind Hitchcock has and I believe this is why his movies were such a success and he deserves to be called the ‘Master of Suspense’.…...

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