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“Analysis Two”: Psycho

“I believe in putting the horror in the minds of the audience, and not necessarily on the screen…” – Hitchcock (BBC Television, 1964)

Psycho was stated to be “the first psychoanalytical thriller”, “the first modern horror film”. Psycho was changing the way films were being viewed, it was Hitchcock’s first attempt at a “shocker” (BBC Television, “Picture Parade”, 1960). Hitchcock stated in his BBC Television interview in 1964, “What is reality? I don’t think many people want reality, whether it is in the theater or in the films. I think it must look real, but it never must be. Because reality is something none of us can really stand, at any time.” The acting in Psycho (Hitchcock, Paramount, 1960) was more realistic instead of the classic over the top hollywood acting seen in most movies of the day, and the film challenged viewers to think about their own thoughts of right and wrong.

Anthony Perkins, who plays motel clerk Norman Bates in a very oddly realistic way, complete with facial tics and half-swallowed words, was not the polished image a viewer expected to see in the 1950’s. Perkins manages to continually grab the viewers attention, even in small moments like the way he stumbles on the word “falsity” or notes how creepy he finds dampness to be in the parlor scene.

In this particular scene, the audience is introduced to an odd insight of Norman. Norman’s interest is “stuffing things, you know taxidermy.” This scene portrays Norman’s unstable mind in a subtle way, by lighting and their conversation.

The key lighting is from the lamp on the table. Marion is sitting near and slightly behind the lamp. Her face is well lit and appears to be a soft figure radiating warmth, despite the fact that she had stolen forty thousand dollars, she is not hidden in shadows – it is a foreshadow that she will probably resent what she has done and well try to make things right. At the conclusion of the scene, Marion has decided that she must go back and do what is right. There is the soft lighting and even the round picture frame behind her head that emphasizes femininity, vulnerability, it suggests that she might compensate for her faults.

Opposed to Marion, Norman is sitting away from the light source. Norman’s face has a harsh line separating his face in half – half in light and half in shadows. This way of showing his face is as if the viewer is being told that there is two sides to Norman, and later on the audience learn of both sides of him (host/murderer, man/child, good/evil, son/mother). The lighting has sharp, angular shadows cast ominously against the walls and ceiling above Norman. The owl behind Norman in one shot also portrays this ominous feeling as he talks about defying his mother, but cannot leave her.

At moments when Norman mentions odd things there is a musical note attached, while the scene is mostly run without background sound. The conversation becomes much more serious with the conversation gearing towards putting Norman’s mother in an institute, at this moment background music is placed in – giving an eerie air. This moment in the scene can raise hairs, Marion seemed to have not caught on that Norman just mentioned very detailed descriptions of the workings of an asylum and she just gave away the fact that she had been lying about where she came from (she states she’s going back to Phoenix, Arizona).

This scene begins with what appears to be an innocent invitation from Norman to Marion Crane, it leaves the audience not thinking much of it. But as the scene continues and their talk becomes quite serious the viewer would feel  something off about Norman. The lighting in the scene showing the difference of Marion, who begins to understand her wrongs, and Norman, who is unusually captivating through his speech, is like showing the audience the difference between the sane and something not quite right in the head. At the end of the scene the audience is left with a threatened feeling because of the combination of lights, sound and the conversation.

During the 1950’s, 1960’s, there was not a definite horror genre, even though there was already horror type films produced – such as “M” (Fritz, 1931). Psycho was the first to delve into the psyche of a mentally impaired man and lead the audience on a ride of of their life, a “shocker”. Through music, lighting, dialogue and camera angles, the viewer was going to be at the edge of their seat. The audience is introduced at the beginning of the film as a peeping tom that is just on for a ride into Marion’s life, but during Norman’s moment of peeping the audience begins to get into his mind. By this time of the film, the viewer is already beginning to feel the grips of paranoia for Marion and now begins to feel the gut instinct that something was not right with Norman – but Marion hadn’t a clue. This scene is the biggest turning point of the movie, it is also the defining point before the big scene, where Marion dies (the shower scene), it is also the point where the audience begins to see the other side of Norman – it is the initial point where the audiences fear is beginning to be imbedded.

((Just for laughs: Obama, Norman Bates \”…wouldn\’t even hurt a fly…\”))

Bonnie and Clyde

What an interesting film. I enjoyed it very much. The film was a bit odd at times with those real life-like awkward pauses and moments of facial expressions, I found that those really are true in life. In fact I think I’m beginning to develop a dislike for those awkward silent moments.

Some scenes in the movie to talk about:
The sceen where Bonnie goes back to see her mother and family members, the characters were dressed in black and the atmosphere in the scene was soft and mellow. This foreshadowing of the future was quite intriguing to me, because of how odd it felt. There was the feeling of surrealism in the moment, and that brought forth a feeling of gloom in me. It matched the scene where Bonnie and Clyde finally are defeated…The gloom of the whole event left me feeling speechless afterwards, it was as if this movie is to predict the inevitable doom that is to befall all of us one day – you’ll never realize it’s the end until it is already too late.

I am still pretty much awed by the shot of the last scene, and of the shot where the man was shot through the head. Those vividly clear shots of death that appear quite real…it reminds me of a few things that I wish not to remember.

So, for this movie that was comedic and depressing, what did you think? Which scene captured you?

La Jetee

I have learned the name of a movie I watched some time ago, La Jetee. I watched this movie because I was interested in The Twelve Monkeys, I heard from somewhere that La Jetee was the original. I found it interesting that instead of filming the whole movie they used still photos. I noticed that there was one part in the film that was not consistent with the rest of the movie. The scene I am talking about is a shot of the women in bed, breathing. After looking for the clip to show you I have found an interesting comment  found at the following link, along with the video (La Jetee, view 7:50-8:05, observe her face carefully). I couldn’t agree more to this person’s comment, “in a world of stagnant frozen moments, a tiny movement is like seeing a miracle”. I thought perhaps it was my imagination, and thus this post came into being to tell the rest of you that if you thought it was your own imagination, think again! Other then this part of the movie, I enjoyed the scenic photos and the photo at the airport of our main character’s death, (view below for photo).

This photo was quite daunting to me, I couldn’t help liking it. I love how the man is in shadows against the sky backdrop.

Could you imagine a world where we could go back in time, and even forwards in time? What did you think about the movie? Did you like the unique way of telling a story through pictures? Did you notice there was one part where she was breathing? What’s your favorite photo (scene?) from the film?

DEXTER

So, my new obsession is a television show on Showtime named Dexter. It is a show I suggest everyone to watch from the beginning. It is about a serial killer, who kills other serial killers, trying to fit into normal society without being caught. For this series, there is two major plot lines running next to each other that eventually meet and create even more conflict then there already is from their separate “lives”. I suggest this show because I thought the visuals were very well done. If you don’t watch Dexter, or don’t want to watch Dexter, at least watch the opening sequence, which is shot extraordinarily. I thought it was quite unique in itself. Please have a look & perhaps watch the first episode of the first season… >> DEXTER

If you watched the opening sequence. Isn’t it unique? If you end up watching Dexter [you’ll learn by the first episode, but I might have spoilers – hopefully not] that he is the blood splatter analysis guy for Miami Police, and that he collects blood samples from his victims. In the opening sequence there was a bunch of things that connected the thought of blood – mosquito, cut himself shaving, ketchup, and the blood orange. But that’s not the only connection to what he is, which he tries to find out through the episodes, there’s the indication of cutting meat, tying things up…

What did you think about this opening sequence? Did you like it? (No, I’m not going to force you to watch Dexter…) What was the best part of the sequence? Mine was the coffee being grinded, I thought that was an awesome shot (don’t know what I’m talking about? 1:03-1:06).

“She wouldn’t even hurt a fly…”

An extraordinary film created by Hitchcock in 1960, Psycho. Suspense and paranoia filled the film up in the first half of the movie as our main heroine escapes with the money she was stealing away. The haunting thoughts of being watched and followed by nothing, Marion Crane’s guilt is taking over her. She believes that they are on to her, and voices echo through her mind as she drives in the rain. It’s as if there is a looming atmosphere of doom building up. And then there is a calm before the frightening storm, she finds the motel and rests for the night.

The famous bathroom scene. A white space as she takes her shower, unknown to her of the danger about to come. The dark shadow scared the hell out of me, yes it absolutely did. I hadn’t seen Psycho before nor even a clip of it, only photos, and for the first time viewing it…I think it’s great. I loved how they used the white space. The door opened and suddenly this pure white space had an ominous dark plume shoot out towards us – that scared me the most out of the whole movie. I thought it was a stupendous shot that boggles my mind, I might just be a bit freaked out by it no matter how many times I see it. That specific shot gives me the chills.

The clean up scene was brilliant. When Norman Bates was cleaning up her body, I thought of course that made sense. And after a minute or two I began to wonder about the newspaper concealing the money, ‘what about the money?’ ‘Is he going to get it?’ ‘Will he find it now?’ ‘Oh, he’ll definitally find the money…’ The suspense was killing me, and then I saw it in almost every shot as he cleaned up the room, ‘will he find it?’ My eyes were wide open anticipating the shock he was going to get, but I was shocked – he didn’t realize that he just threw FOURTY THOUSAND DOLLARS into the trunk of the car. Now I didn’t know what to think about the rest of the movie, what was going to happen now? It was a wonderfully suspenseful moment, very intense.

The movie was psychologically defined, and I really did love the majority of it. I enjoyed the character Norman Bates and was intrigued of the changes from novel to screen time – I think it worked better that he wasn’t a chubby middle aged man. Norman was a very intriguing individual, his personality seemed to be very well thought out to the point that I could see inside his mind, and understand him. I thought it was disgusting that he kept his mother’s corpse, and thought it quite laughable that he was called a transvestite, and not a pretty one I might add (haha).

War of the Worlds!

WAR OF THE WORLDS! The radio broadcast that drew in millions of radio listeners into a realistic horror story. On Sunday, October 30, 1938, millions were shocked to hear the radio news alerts announce the arrival of Martians. But what the radio listeners heard was a part of Orson Welles’ adaptation of the book, War of the Worlds by H.G Wells, many believed that what they heard on the radio was real.

I’ve only known about the movie War of the Worlds, never watched it, before I was introduced to the knowledge of the radio broadcast War of the worlds. It’s interesting to go back in time to listen to something that is equivalent to watching television or going to the movies of our time. I never done something like that before. I decided since there was no picture for me to watch, that I’d listen to it while falling asleep. But I couldn’t get a wink in, the story was to intriguing.

I knew that what I was listening to was something fictional, but I swear I could hear the aliens outside my window attacking the city. It was mind boggling! I had to glance at my window a few times to make sure that there was no alien space craft hovering outside my window.

I keep wondering if other radio broadcasts were this good. I’ve been thinking of going in search of another one to hear, as another bedtime story telling event. I could probably make it a monthly habit, only monthly because I can’t sleep otherwise.

It’s amazing that, even though it is all sound and no picture, you could see such vivid images in your own mind. It’s like I wasn’t in my room anymore. I was submerged into a world unknown to me, and lead on an amazing journey…But maybe it might have been because it was just before bed, and the lights were off.

I took a small trip back in time, a time where stories were told with wonderful detail over the radio. I experienced something quite intriguing through this trip, I don’t even think I described it properly. You know…I think you should go and have a listen, here is a link for you to enjoy it too.

A Happy Ending?

Food for thought: “There  is a wonderful expression: seeing through a glass darkly. Everything, even life, is inevitably removed from you. You can’t reach, or touch, the real. You just see reflections.” A quote from Douglas Sirk that states so much more then Jon Halliday’s relation to Imitation of Life. If you think about it, life is made up of just reflections.

A happy ending is when our main characters achieve their ultimate love, or success – but sometimes you’ll have to wonder if they’ll be truly  happy. Douglas Sirk’s film Witten on the Wind gives you that feeling in the end. There are many films out there that give the viewer the “happy ending” that they want and Witten On the Wind was one of them, or was it?

Witten on the Wind, by Universal, had strong bold colors here and there. The colors were intense, in a splendid way, on the mind and roaming eyes. Some say that the colors gave an artificial feel to the film, that may be true. Some colors were faded back, while others were emphasized by the bold bright colors that engaged and attract your eyes. Their was a unique use of color during the party scene, Lucy’s dress was in white while Marylee’s dress was in black and the other girls in the scenes were dressed in colored dresses – I thought this was something interesting to point out, considering what white and black stand for in the united states.

Sadly the most engaging character was the most nerve wracking character in the film, Marylee. She was something else, extraordinarily annoying, bitchy, and the cause of all the trouble. But if that were true then there would be no film without her.

I didn’t find the ending happy, in fact I thought it was rather tear-jerking. I liked the shot where Marylee was sitting in front of her father’s portrait, it had a good contrast of new and old – it also made us remember Marylee and her father’s relationship, and how she has now changed. In the end, I felt so bad for Kyle because he didn’t do anything wrong – he was just manipulated by his evil sister into thinking that the love of his life loved another, which I didn’t think she did. I have mixed feelings for Mitch and Lucy…

So, how did you like the movie? What was your favorite scene? Did you like the use of “taking us backwards in time” to catch up to the story? Did you enjoy the “happy ending” – they all got what they wanted right?

Japanese Cinema

Yasujiro Ozu’s “Early Summer” wasn’t a truly exciting story, it was just a slice of life from a woman’s life. But her story was interesting, that it kept me wondering about the rest of her life. The film also made me think a bit about my own life, but that’s for another time.

The film was shot at the view of someone sitting down on the tatami mats – which I thought worked quite well with the film, since most of the characters were sitting down on the tatami mats, or interacting at that leveled view.

I loved the little children and their little comedic roles in the film. Their roles made the film have a light that I enjoyed, I could have probably enjoyed following the little boy around if Ozu made a story about him.

I found Ozu’s film interesting because he refused to follow Hollywood’s 180degree rule. Using the 360degree rule Ozu’s film was quite different. For some the change could be odd and hard to keep track of, but I didn’t think so. For me it was as if I was in the room as an invisible spectator observing their lives, turning my head to keep track with their conversation in a stationed position – perhaps sitting on the mat while making my observation.

Well, what did you think of the film? Did you find the 360degree shots confusing? What was your favorite moment in the film? Would you watch more “slice of life” films if you could?

“Analysis One” : Umberto D

What to do?

In Umberto D. (DeSica, Dear Films, 1952), there is a scene where Umberto finally needs to beg for money but cannot physically bring himself to do it. He extends his palm up, but when a passer-by stops to give him money, Umberto quickly flips his hand over, as if testing for rain. It is one of many scenes that shows Umberto in his financial standing. It shows the audience the grim truth that even though there is an economic boom, and all looks well, there are still people in poverty.

During 1952, the economy in Italy was reviving and the average Italian was beginning to feel optimistic about his or her life and future. And when a nation is flush with resources, most who are riding the wave of prosperity lose interest in those left in the trough, and that is where Umberto resides. Living alone with his dog, and only companion, Flike. He had lived a lifetime of being employed a well stable government job, only to end up an elderly pensioned man, living in poverty he has to figure out how to deal with everything and make a living.

Dejected from just having no luck with his friend, Umberto walks down the road and stops by some tall pillars. He leans against the stone rail and contemplates what to do, and if he should resort to begging. He stalls and attempts a few times to extend his hand out, but is hesitant. He extends his hand, palm up, forcefully just as a passer-by crosses. But he ends up pretending to check for rain when the passer-by stopped to give him money. Umberto is dressed in a suit, and perhaps this makes the passer-by rationalize that he had made a mistake. Thinking it over, the passer-by leaves. But it is evident that though Umberto is in dire need of money, the passer-by would give it up as if it were nothing much to think about.

The point is the reminder that not all were being rescued by the national recovery. The sweaty forehead of Umberto at this moment shows the difficult decision he must make, the acknowledgement that he was probably in need of external help. But the inner turmoil he shows, shows the turmoil of Italy of the time – to acknowledge that they still need help or to continue on with their pride and pretend that everything would be fine just as is.

The shot was taken by some large pillars, making Umberto seem quite small as he was trying to make the decision, to extend his hand or not to extend it? It unconsciously gives us the sense of how endless this could be, from the extending pillars to the far depth of the field of vision. And then it repeats, when he was about to receive money he pulls his hand away, the pillars in the background looming – will he throw away pride and give in, how many others like him are out there?

Post WWII, during a time when Italy’s economy was beginning to pick itself back up people cared less and less about poverty. In this specific scene where Umberto hesitantly extends his palm up for money, we see the fact that perhaps there are quite a few people who are in financial crisis. But there are many who refuse to see it. Even if there are people in “poverty” they aren’t really “poor”, but just because they don’t beg and out right state so doesn’t mean that they aren’t in need. People need to realize that not everyone is well off even if the majority of the nation is or almost is, not everyone can sustain a living.

“Stalag 17”

AKA. Stockholm 17.

The movie was recommended to me last semester by another one of my professors. I have recently been able to watch it. And I suggest you watch it as well. It is a movie made in 1953, shot in black and white.

In the movie, I won’t spoil it…at least I’ll try not to, the story is about a group of men who are American prisoners of war in Germany. They have a spy in their bunker, but they point fingers at the wrong guy. Now this guy is doing all he could to find the guy who’s the real spy. [Here’s the information from imbd: When two escaping American World War II prisoners are killed, the German POW camp barracks black marketeer, J.J. Sefton, is suspected of being an informer.]

Notice this one scene where J.J. Sefton watches the wall and notices a shadow. I tell you this because my teacher said it was a great scene to show the audience how Sefton discovered the spy. But anyways that’s beside the point. I ended up enjoying the movie, even though I only watched it to see that one part. You might enjoy it too!

I wish I could have written this when I had just watched the movie, I had so much to say about it…

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046359/

http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/jme_KW2wwvs/

^-part 1

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