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Shot Analysis: A Closer Look at Alfred Hitchcock's "pyscho"

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Shot Analysis: A Closer Look at Alfred Hitchcock's "Pyscho"

In 1960, director Alfred Hitchcock would release "Psycho," a film that follows Marion Crane and her journey as a thief, attempting to leave town with 40,000$ of her employer's money. Along her journey she encounters strange characters such as Norman Bates, a quiet motel manager, who seems to have a rather eerie fascination with his mother. However, unbeknownst to Marion, Mr. Norman Bates and his mother are one and the same, as well as murderers, which Marion discovers as she is stabbed to death as she showers. Marion was not as sneaky leaving town as she sought out to be, as her employer hires a detective by the name Milton Arbogast to trace her down. As Arbogast embarks on his journey to discover the whereabouts of Ms. Marion Crane, he realizes that Mrs. Bates, Normans mother can be of great aid in helping to find Marion Crane. After a series of debates with Norman, Arbogast is finally able to meet with mother, only to eventually lead the same fate as Marion and be brutally stabbed to death.

While Hitchcock provided the world of film with an almost endless amount of innovative filmmaking that would go on to be emulated and duplicated over years, it is "Psycho," that arguably contains his most praised work of all. Before detective Arbogast meets his inevitable death, he provides the world of film with a scene that will forever remain timeless.

Medium Shot (Slight left angle, black and white). Approx. 1 second.

Composition: Arbogast is indoors. The lighting is coming from the top right of the frame as Arbogast's shadow is cast on the bottom left of the frame. Arbogast is seen from the waist up in the foreground, while a shut front door with its drapes dropped make up the background. Shadows from the lighting create diagonal lines on the background moving from the top right to bottom left of the frame. Leaves from a plant are seen on the right of the frame.

Action: Arbogast grasps his hat as he scans the room for any sort of action. He looks right.

Sound: Strings in the movie score play a quiet and rather calm melody, hinting towards Arbogast's curiosity of his surroundings.

Cut To:

Cut Away Shot (Eye level, black and white). Approx. 1 second.

Composition: Another shut door is seen, this one without any windows or drapes. The timing of the previous cut suggests this door is near Arbogast to his right. Another diagonal line is formed on this door by a shadow. This one descends from the left to right of the frame. A small statue, which appears to be of the angel Cupid, is seen in its entirety on the left of the frame. The statue casts a shadow on the lower half of the door, which portrays a subtle yet frightening resemblance to a hooded character thrusting forward with a knife.

Action: Still cut-away shot, no action.

Sound: Strings in movie score continue to play a curious theme.

Cut To:

Medium Shot (Slight left angle, black and white). Approx. 6 seconds.

Composition: This shot begins exactly where shot #1 ended. The lighting remains the same with diagonal lines formed by shadows descending from the right to the left of the frame.

Action: As Arbogast continues to grasp his hat, he turns his head to face forward, beginning to look up. As he looks upward he takes his first steps, moving towards his destination, towards the camera. Right before the shot ends he leans his head forward, watching his step.

Sound: The curious melody of the strings has come to an end. A change is near.

Cut To:

Cut-In-Shot (Ground level, black and white). Approx. 1 second.

Composition: The back of Arbogast's legs can be seen in the foreground from his knees to his ankles. He is heading toward a carpeted stairwell. The lighting is now coming from the top left, behind the camera. Arbogast's shadow is cast on the stairs. His hat can be seen in the upper right corner of the frame, dangling from his right hand.

Action: Arbogast has begun ascending the stairs.

Sound: A transition in melody is taking place.

Cut To:

Medium Shot (Stationary camera, green screen, slight left angle, black and white). Approx. 7 seconds.

Composition: Arbogast is now seen from the front again. His left hand is sliding over the railing of the stair set. He is lit from the top right corner of the frame, continuing the lighting theme of the 1st and 3rd shots. The background is of the lobby floor carpet on which Arbogast had been standing. It is out of focus, as well as lit differently than the foreground. As Arbogast continues to move up the stairs, the camera appears to move with him, step by step.

Action: Arbogast is grasping the stair set railing while climbing the stairs. His eyes are set focused on whatever lies ahead of him. His head turns



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