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Storytelling and Hitchcock’s Psycho

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  1. Introduction
  2. The traditional three act structure
  3. Marion and the money
  4. The body of the plot
  5. The journeys
  6. Norman's idiosyncratic traits
  7. Hitchcock's juxtaposition of Norman
  8. Perkins' angular face
  9. Marion's desires in the film
  10. Norman's desires and obstacles
  11. Conclusion

Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 masterpiece Psycho intricately weaves the seven elements of storytelling in a clever and highly stylized fashion. Hitchcock, known for his meticulous attention to detail, elaborately illustrates his character's traits with the use of mise-en-scene subtle mannerisms. The director consistently skews the audience's perception of reality and Norman's fantasy world, resulting in the film's unfolding of Norman's sinister and bizarre plot. Psycho follows a traditional three act structure with approximately thirty minutes setting up the bulk of the plot, hour body and subsequent thirty minutes resolution. The beginning of the film in fact, has little to do with the bulk of the plot, Marion is merely a conveyance to introducing Norman, the primary focus.

[...] Marion's concept of time is hurried and always fleeting, it is only when she decides to return the money that she slows down. For Norman, time has no bearing. Part of Norman's reality is that nothing ever changes, that is, as long as he can hide it from his consciousness and society. Upon meeting Marion, Norman tells her about the slump in business: sense in dwelling on our losses. We just keep lighting the lights and following the formalities.? Norman refuses to reconcile with parts of his past (mother's death) but revels in the admonishment of passing time. [...]


[...] Several journeys accompany the plot line of Psycho both literally and figuratively. Marion's journey is physical as well as psychological. In the first scene with Sam, Marion wears white undergarments yet after she has stolen the money she switches to black underwear, signaling the duality of her character. Her purity is lost and she clings to the delusion that the money will solve her problems. Her trek to the Bates Motel is accompanied by frenetic music, voices in her head and an impending sense of doom. [...]

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