Thursday, April 10, 2014

CLASSIC HORROR -- Psycho (1960)

Written by Federico D.

When I first watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, I hadn’t read the book by Robert Boch. Consequently, I didn’t know the character to whom the film’s title referred.

Psychosis refers to losing contact with reality, potentially arriving at a place of delusion and hallucination. At first I thought this would define Marion’s boyfriend Sam, who was infuriated with paying alimony to his ex-wife and debts for his deceased father. Then there was Caroline, who rushed from her desk to hold the money Tom Cassidy had given Marion to deposit. So even though the “psycho” was eventually revealed, I couldn’t help but wonder what stirred my initial speculations. With those whose motives I pointed out before, and the motives of Lila, Marion and especially Norman, does Hitchcock reveal through characters that we all have a little psychosis—and that the depths which we plunge into them result from decisions we make?

Lila struck me as fearless. At the beginning of the film, Caroline tells Marion about Lila’s trip to Tucson to procure some real estate over the weekend. This implied that Lila probably took on bigger responsibilities than her sister, hinting that she would relentlessly search for the missing Marion. Even with Detective Milton Arbogast on the job, Lila was willing to drive up to Bates Motel alone before Sam joined her. I even praised her for rushing into Norman’s home to question his mother. Not once did her fear take over, until she turned the chair around in the basement, meeting the skeleton of Norman’s mother. Lila’s courage collapsed, trepidation transforming her from the bold person we first met in Sam’s hardware store. Luckily, Sam was there to save her from Norman’s wife.

Unlike Lila, Marion feared her life would remain the same. She wanted to marry Sam, possess a respectable relationship. Lack of money was the only partition to her desires, and stealing Mr. Cassidy’s $40,000 seemed the only way out. The money in her possession, Marion trembled every time she encountered someone. However, alone, a smile arose across her face as she imagined conversations of the people her thievery affected. She was determined to turn her life around. She even purchased a new car and wrote a false name on the Bates Motel registry. Yet, a conversation with Norman changed her intention with the money. She returned to her room and calculated what she had spent from the money. She decided to give the rest back, but atonement was too late as Norman’s mother took a knife to her.

Dr. Fred Richman unveiled that between Norman’s split personalities, the mother side of Norman won over her son. Ten years ago, Norman felt his mother’s love for him wane with the presence of a man she dated. Norman killed them both, staging it to appear that his mother had poisoned her lover before poisoning herself. After the funeral, Norman dug up her grave, intending to preserve the life that he and his mother had grown accustomed to living. Subsequently, he became a serial killer, murdering anyone who threatened his relationship with his mother.

Through each character in Psycho, I witnessed similarities to real world individuals. I understand the delicacy of this topic, and in no way am I saying that either I, anyone I know, or even anyone reading this article is a killer. I just interpreted from the movie that there are different levels of psychosis. As Norman Bates stated in his parlor, “We all go a little mad sometimes.” However, I think about the decisions that I or others have made, confronted by situations that could have turned what little psychosis we possessed into something that thankfully never matured to anything harmful. All this condenses to Marion’s words to Norman, “Sometimes just one time can be enough.”

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