Alfred Hitchcock – Psycho (1960)
“He stole her corpse. A weighted coffin was buried. He hid the body in the fruit cellar. Even treated it to keep it as well as it would keep. And that still wasn’t enough. She was there! But she was a corpse”. (Dr Fred Richmond, Psycho, 1960)
What interested me about this particular film is the corpse in final scene, which frightens Marion’s sister who decides t0 turn the chair. It could be argued that the corpse doesn’t appear realistic, although the hollow sockets and the wrinkly texture may feature similarities to the skull.
Psycho features Marie, the main female protagonist who steals money from her work and travels to the Norman Bates hotel where she is murdered in the Shower. Marie’s sister and her boyfriend search for Marie and they finally discover that Bate’s is the murderer who impersonates his dead mother.
According to Robert Phillip Kokler, Psycho relates to Lacan’s theories, which are based around the ‘Oedipal’. The child must separate bond with the mother and follow the parental figure who provides structure and the ‘symbolic order’.
Lacan also theorizes the child’s first encounters with the mirror – the child identifies the connection with the mother but the child also recognizes him /herself as an individual subject. Norman struggles to establish his own identity and he is unable to separate himself from the connection with the mother.
From a personal perspective, Kokler does highlight some interesting arguments and theories surrounding this film. Bate’s mother does have a large influence upon her son who lacks the ability to listen to his own conscience. It could be argued that Norman and his mother have been merged into a single form. The mother’s entity exists within Norman’s body, which is highlighted throughout the film.
I was really interested in the style and the angle of the camera throughout Psycho, which may provide a different perspective of death through the use of black and white. Perhaps the mother’s entity is constantly present throughout the entire film through Norman’s psychotic attitude or behaviour.
It could be argued that death or the concept of dying becomes evident through Norman’s conversations with his absent mother. Kolker argues that his mother’s entity is present throughout the film, while Marion’s disappearance initiates an absence, that is recognised by the other characters.
Hitchcock, Alfred. “Pyscho.” 109. USA: Universal Studios, 1960
Kolker, Robert.P, ed. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho: A Casebook. New York: Oxford University press Inc, 2004.
Video: Youtube / Movieclip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWHYmNrAFlI