Film Analysis: Psycho

Posted in Uncategorized on December 8th, 2010 by dquinlan

In Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960’s horror/thriller “Psycho”, released by Paramount Studios, Hitchcock portrays to us the life and mind of a serial killer. One of the most pivotal scenes in the film is the parlor scene, in which we are first introduced to the protagonist, Norman Bates and it details his first meeting with Marion Crane. Hitchcock presents the scene with very unique camera angles, quick edits and key lighting to set up the overall mysterious tone of the film.

Hitchcock brought horror/thrillers to a new level when “Psycho” was released. And to hype the film up he did a majority of its promotion and barley said anything in regards to the plot of the film. He also set up a rule that no one would be allowed to enter a screening of “Psycho” once the film at had begun to screen.

The parlor scene ultimately sets up the mysterious  tone of the film. As Norman invites the only guest at the motel, Marion Bates, to have dinner with him in the back of the parlor, the mystery of who Norman Bates is begins. The parlor is filled with many stuffed birds, which hanging on the wall and made to look like the birds are still flying. There is also only one light in the parlor, and it is known as a Tiffany lamp, and it is a main component of the scene. It is a very creepy setting that fits perfectly with the rest of the film.

The scene begins with Marion and Norman entering the room and sitting down. Marion has accepted to have dinner with Norman and he has prepared a sandwich for her. Marion has taken a seat on the couch, with the lamp right next to her, and Norman has taken a seat in the corner and is surrounded by his stuffed birds. The birds seems very haunting and disturbing to the viewers as they hover over Norman.  The birds also offer us a quick insight into Norman Bates, as he tells Marion “he likes to stuff things”, and we begin to question this character.

We take notice of the lighting in the scene right away as well, as Norman’s face is half lit and we get a clear look of his shadow. Right away this sets up a sort of mystery to the character of Norman Bates. This could also be seen as foreshadowing in the film, and was a great way face is fully lit because she is next to the light and of portraying Norman’s duel personalities (himself and the mother and a man and a child). And Marion’s portrays the innocent guest of the motel and her essential goodness as she has told herself she is going to return the money she had stolen.

The camera angles Hitchcock chose set up the dark and mysterious tone seen throughout the film.  For Marion he gave us an eye level view of her, and lets the audience see her as two people might see each other while sitting and talking.  But Norman is placed in the corner of the room, sitting on a small chair. As they chat, the camera quickly switches back and forth between them. While Marion’s angle stays the same, for Norman’s the audience is placed on his left hand side, which is an odd angle to see for two people having a conversation. Being on the left side of Norman offers us a very unbalanced look at him.  With is being unbalanced it could lead us to believe that Norman’s world is a little bit off. With him being surrounded by the stuffed birds and the awkward moments between him and Marion, the scene can lead us to speculate that Norman is the murderer and Marion could be his next victim.

Throughout the film we are presented with special camera angles, key lighting and mise-en-scene which produce this dark, ominous and mysterious world of Norman Bates. Hitchcock shows us many times throughout the film these dual personalities that Norman is challenged with. And the parlor scene is a key element to the overall feel of the film and how certain aspects of people we first meet can throw us off and leave us wondering who they really are.

Kustom Kar Kommandos

Posted in Uncategorized on December 2nd, 2010 by dquinlan

After all the viewings of the short films on Wednesday, I found one film to stand out the most to me. That would be Kenneth Anger’s “Kustom Kar Kommandos.” I remember someone in class mentioned this at first, but it also struck me before we watched the film. The whole idea of misspelling the words of title and replacing the C’s with K’s made me believe that it was going to be a film a but racism. But that whole concept changed once we got too see the man in powder blue polishing his pink car. It then started to hit me that Anger was trying to promote something much bigger than these men just cleaning their cars. I think he may have been trying to get a certain point across to men. Maybe that instead of putting so much time and effort into the look and feel of your car, maybe you should be doing this towards a woman instead. Treat a lady that you meet with as much respect as you put towards you car and maybe the times they were in would be portrayed a little bit different. Anger set the tone for this by playing “Dream Lover” by The Paris Sisters. The song could be a women singing about how she wants a boy to love her like he does a car. The song’s lyrics describe how the singer wanted “a dream lover, so I don’t have to dream alone.” It could just be me, but this is what I feel Anger was trying to get across through this short film.


Posted in Uncategorized on November 11th, 2010 by dquinlan

This was my second viewing of Psycho. I had watched when I was younger, probably around 12 at one of my friend’s houses. Of course I thought it was creepy when I was younger, but you really don’t get a full grasp of the movie until you watch it when you’re older in my opinion. Watching it now you get such a better perspective on the movie, and all the underlying themes that we definitely missed out on if we watched it at a young age. The Oedipus conflict that revolves around the film was easily my favorite part of the film. The way Hitchcock dives into the deep psychology of Norman Bates is great.  Even when we first meet Norman we get can get  a sense that there is something deeply wrong with him and he looks disturbed after all of his “interactions” with Mother.

Also watching this film with a bigger audience is also gives the movie a better viewing for my second time. Seeing people’s gasps and the nervous movement and quick jitters at times gives us some depth that and proves some psychological horror this film provides. Though it did bug me during the revelation scene that a lot of people began to laugh. Because to me I didn’t find that funny because when the scene arrives we really get to see how disturbed Norman Bates really is.

Also on a side note, it blows my mind that Gus Van Sant thought it would be a good idea to remake this film back in 1998. He basically did a shot by shot remake of the film and the only addition to it, is that it’s in color. Also his casting of Vince Vaughn was absolutely dreadful to me. Don’t get me wrong though about Vince Vaughn, I love him, but he was really miscast in his role as the “new” Norman Bates. I’ve provided the trailer at the bottom, so anyone who didn’t see the remake can get a glimpse of how similar the two films were.

Psycho (1998) Trailer (via YouTube)

Early Summer

Posted in Uncategorized on October 21st, 2010 by dquinlan

After my first viewing of this film I can sense that it can be become very difficult for some to watch. As the film is rather longer than the others we have watched and how there is very little reference to the plot of the film. Filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu is also a very unusual film director. As he tends to stray away from the rather traditional ways of shooting films. Mainly by ignoring the 180 degree rule, but while watching I rarely seemed to be affected by this and didn’t consider an issue.
But for the film in general, it really wasn’t one of my overall favorites that we’ve watched. It seemed rather dull at points and the dialogue would drag on to me. Though I loved the idea of keeping the camera set on certain frames it did come off as unnecessary towards me. Though this shouldn’t have bothered me as much as it did but the children in the film just came off as very annoying brats. It just seemed cringe worthy at times and would have never expected this from a film in the Japanese culture.

Film Analysis: Umberto D.

Posted in Uncategorized on October 21st, 2010 by dquinlan

In the final scene of “Umberto D” directed by Vittorio De Sica and written by De Sica and Cesare Zavattini they portray a man succumbing to defeat and attempting to take his life after failing to come up with enough money to live his life. The film takes place in Italy during the 1950’s when citizens were struggling to come up with money and the country being on the brink of war.
Throughout the film we see many Italian citizens doing their best to get by. Umberto at one point sells some of his books just come up for some money. And to avoid having to pay his rent, he goes to the hospital and tries to sick for as long as he can. The final scene portrays what could have been going on inside most of struggling citizen’s minds.
Most of the final sequence is consisted of long shots and close-ups to show off the emotions of the main character Umberto D. Ferrari and his dog Flike. Many shots are used to portray what the inevitable ending was going to be. As Umberto was trying to give his dog away to new owner we see shots of the dog Flike meeting new children and quickly shoot back to see Umberto’s reactions. As he tries to run off without Flike seeing him the camera quickly switches over to the other side of the bridge closer to the train. Now as Flike finds Umberto we quickly shoot to a close-up of the both them and we understand that Umberto is not going to be able to go unless Flike goes with him.
One of the most pivotal parts of the final scene is when Umberto begins walking towards the train tracks and the train is quickly approaching. As Umberto is slowly debating on taking his own life we the camera slowly zoom in on Umberto and then focuses on the oncoming train. As train approaches the camera quickly shoots to close-ups shots of Umberto and Flike and then Flike trying to get away from Umberto as the train is coming towards them. The close-ups show off a broken man trying to end his life and his loyal dog not yet wanting to go.
Most of the camera angles used is to portray Umberto as the superior towards Flike. After Flike runs off the camera is angled at Flike’s point of view looking up towards Umberto and when we see Flike the camera is pointed downwards.   And as Umberto tries to regain Flike’s trust by throwing a pine cone around it shifts to a 2-shot of both of them. This is used to portray Umberto’s new lease on life as he finally gets around to believing that he does have something live for.
So as we can see the film Umberto D. came out at a remarkable time for the Italian nation. By showing that everyone was having problems with their financial situations and showing us that there always is an upside to live. The cinematography was used greatly to show off emotions of these very relatable characters and used to hit certain tones with the viewers.

Umberto D

Posted in Uncategorized on October 14th, 2010 by dquinlan

After watching Umberto D, I feel as if you are a dog lover then you would instantly love this film. If you own a dog you understand that even if they can never talk back to you, you know they understand you and you understand them. And dogs are the perfect companions for anyone who doesn’t want to be alone. Umberto D portrayed this beautifully because Umberto had no other family members and seemed as if his only friend was the maid in his apartment. While others respected him they seemed to feel distant towards him at times. And having a very loyal dog, like Flike, in this film, you seem to understand why so many people today are so attached to their dogs.
Also after watching Umberto D I couldn’t help but think about how a person now days could be going through the same situation Umberto was going through. With the economy at the moment not its best time many people could probably relate to Umberto. Not being able to pay rent, only having few people to rely on and struggling to find money. If this film was watched by others maybe some would understand how tough people had it when going in to war back then and how we could relate now.

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