Thursday, 22 April 2010


On to the real thing!

This is the third or fourth time I have seen this film over the past 40 years. It still had me on the edge of my seat and made me jump on more than one occasion. Filmed in black and white, the subtle palette of tones and careful lighting are brilliantly used by Hitchcock to deliver a film that is as fresh, disturbing and scary as the day it was made 50 years ago. With towering performances from Perkins, Leigh and the rest of the cast, this film really is a tour-de-force. The soundtrack and opening credits reinforce the sense of paranoia and schizophrenia.

Desire, opportunism, naivety and circumstance conspire to deliver a story that gallops, then slows and then gallops again. The relentless nature of the changes in pace is exquisitely orchestrated by Hitchcock to lull the audience into false senses of security which are immediately challenged in a helter-skelter frenzy of love, theft, murder and horror. For some reason my parents allowed me to watch this at a relatively young age and image of the chair swinging around has been burned into my mind for four decades! It has never 'troubled me', but as someone who has never been into horror, it's as horrifying as I want to get! Perhaps that's why I don't like horror as a genre?

The sheer attention to detail that Hitchcock demonstrates is a lesson modern-day film-makers would do well to learn. I was however struck by how much of the narrative had to be explained in the screenplay as though the audience were not capable of understanding. I find this kind of woodenness frustrating and it appears in too many films today - just listen to Avatar as an example! I guess the erudite and insightful diagnosis by the psychologist at the end of Psycho was necessary for a generation much less conversant with Freudian psychology than people today.

I am glad I went to see this remastered version in the cinema even though I own the DVD. I'd go and see it again tomorrow and the next day and each time I'd see something new. I forgot to look out for Hitchcock himself - well that gives me a reason to see it again - now where's that DVD?

Worthy of 9.5/10 any time!

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