Lesson 8 (online)

Important! The password for any film that requires it is hitchcock.

Watch the two videos below, the first defining what mise-en-scenè is, the second showing some of the more important mise-en-scenè choices in Psycho. Pick the scene that has your favorite "look" from Psycho and post a two-paragraph response about it. Why do you like the look of the scene? Describe it. What important decisions were made about what to show the audience? What did these decisons do for the movie dramatically?

Video Number 1
Mise-en-scenè Essay from Craig Padawer

Video Number 2
Essay on the Mise-en-scenè of Psycho

Watch the following essay to see how Hitchcock tricked audiences into believing Psycho was about a forty-thousand dollar theft by Marion Crane. Were you fooled, or did you see right through his efforts? Can you think of any way the twist in the story could have been made better? Would it have changed anything if Norman had found the money instead? Post your response.

Video Number 3
Psycho: Follow the Money

Bernard Hermann's score for Psycho is undoubtedly the most famous in cinema history. Oddly enough, Hitchcock originally wanted to do the scene with no music at all; Herrmann convinced him otherwise. Watch the clip below to see two different version of the scene, one with the score and one without. What do you think the music does for the scene? Does it improve the action or not? Can you think of any other music that might have worked better? A death-metal track, perhaps? Post your response.

Video Number 4
Psycho: Shower Scene With and Without Music

Check out video number 5 to see the original storyboards, created by "Pictorial Consultant" Saul Bass, as they match up with shots from the shower scene. Bass was one of the top designers of his day and helped to define the look of graphic design in the fifties and sixties. He also designed the title sequence for Psycho. Some people think that the brilliance of the scene is entirely due to the designer's work. When you compare the storyboard to the actual sequence, what do you think? Post your response.

Video Number 5
Psycho: Follow the Storyboards

Watch video number 6 below and post a comment. The clip includes the shower scene from the 1998 Gus Van Sant remake of Psycho. Van Sant wanted to use the original script, camera angles, music, and editing of the original. How well did he succeed? What's different between the two versions? What do you think of the remake? Did it work as well as Hitchcock's version?

Video Number 6
Psycho: The Remake

Watch the two videos posted below (numbers 7 and 8). The psychiatrist's scene at the end of Psycho, where he gives an explanation for Norman's behavior, is a controversial scene in the critical literature about the movie. His explanation gave a 1960's audience a way to understand the mental architecture of a psychotic killer, a character-type only rarely seen on cinema screens of the time. To a modern audience, however, the explanation sounds like a lot of twaddle. We are a lot more accustomed to the idea of a serial killer in the age of Mindhunter and Hannibal Lecter.

I've included two versions of the scene, one with the full speech and one with a critical cut in the speech that makes it quite a bit shorter. In your response, give your opinion of the original speech and the shortened version. Do we need a long speech? Did it make better sense of the movie? Does it slow the movie down? Do you think the shortened version of the speech works better? Does it give you enough information so you understand what happened?

Video Number 7
Psycho: The Shrink

Video Number 8
Psycho: The Shrink Shortened