Psycho – Looked at Through Editing
Psycho is an American classic. It’s an absolutely gorgeous film that uses editing to highlight the thrilling aspects of the picture. I will be reviewing it from a purely editing perspective.
The transitions within the movie are very interesting. There aren’t a grave amount of transitions because scenes are longer, but the ones that happen usually include fade ins and outs that show the Bates Motel. This really added to the thrilling aspect of the film because the Bates hotel always added suspense. I really like when the transitions would fade to black and then reopen on a new scene. I thought it added suspense.
The cuts in the flick were also interesting because they were used to manipulate the plot. Hitchcock usually has very long, continuous shots, so when there are cuts they are quite clear. By adding cuts, you never saw certain things: the mother’s face, the actual stabbing. This leads you to be very confused about the existence of a mother, and leads the audience to feel uneasy about certain characters. They also had cuts that made shifts: when the stabbing happened, they made cuts that shifted to the blood, cuts from the shower, etc. Due to the fact that this is a black and white movie, color isn’t exactly an option to jar the audience. Instead, these fast pace cuts added to the quickness of the moment and the horror of what was happening. These add a suspenseful tone to the film as well as making it a more aesthetically pleasing death.
Most of the editing had to do with supporting the narrative as it was continuity editing, meaning it happened in a chronological 1,2,3 format (going in the actual order of events). However, there were multiple concepts within the continuity editing that added a lot to the movie.
The editing also had multiple graphic matches. The first and most notable one was when the drain shifted into the iris of the eyeball of the poor dead girl. This was a gorgeous transition that really added to the morbidity of the death. Furthermore, it was an incredibly aesthetically pleasing shot
There is also editing with rhythm. Rhythm is used a lot within the film to represent time. You can tell by the fast pace jumps that certaikn shots take place within the same day or the same night. The rhythm helped a lot with forming the narratives. There was one scene in specific that used rhythmic editing that I wanted to point out: when the detective was questioning Norman at the motel, we saw the transitions. The character started out calm, but became more nervous and out of his comfort zone. This was highlighted by the quick paced editing that made the audience uncomfortable to say the least.
There is also some spatial editing that adds to the picture. For multiple scenes, we hear yelling and have a shot of the house up the hill (This happens when Marion just moves in and after she is killed). This makes the audience assume how far away the characters are and have a notion of what is happening.
My favorite parts of the movie were the ones that use elliptical editing. This is when an action consumes less time on screen then it does in the story. It is called an ellipsis. Most of these occurred during driving sequences. A character would be moving and it would be day and suddenly she would be in a different place, and it was night. It only took up about a minute within the film, but took place over several hours within the narrative.
This use of editing helps to highlight the characters. Due to the editing process, many audience members like Norman Bates. They felt terrible for him, and were actually on his side the whole time. There were SOME hints to multiple personality disorder, but mostly you were left in the dark and spent the entire movie hoping it turns out okay for him. This was a really brilliant way of adding a twist at the end of the movie.
I loved watching the movie. I thought that it was an incredibly well done film with a myriad of incredibly editing choices.
I give it five out of five stars.
These are many of the reasons that I love Hitchcock films. His directorial style was so brilliant, and really built suspense well.