Saturday, 5 October 2013

Psycho (1960)

Psycho, 1960, USA
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles & John Gavin

Let them see what kind of a person I am. I'm not even going to swat that fly. I hope they are watching... they'll see. They'll see and they'll know, and they'll say, "Why, she wouldn't even harm a fly..."

Honestly, I don't know what to say about a film that has been so perfectly made and so seemingly flawless that all I can do is be spellbind by the sheer awesomeness of Alfred Hitchcock's unmatched film making and the brilliance of this epic film. This is truly the horror-of-all-horrors, the unmatched thriller of cinema history. This is the film that movie buffs and occasional film watchers alike have told me to watch. It was the first real horror-thriller-drama-suspense-mystery movie and certainly didn't disappoint.

After stealing $40,000, a young and beautiful bank clerk flees to her boyfriend in California. But as tiredness overcomes her, she agrees to stay in the Bates Hotel, run by a charming young, yet puzzling fellow called Norman. That's when things get interesting... And when I say interesting, I mean fucking awesome.

Before I go on to praise Hitchcock for the ultimate achievement of cinema I must first marvel at the incredible acting displayed by the cast of Psycho. I truly think that this film contains some of the best acting ever seen. Anyone from film actors, stage performers, drama students or anyone who has ever put on a wig and pretended to be someone else should aspire to match the performance of Perkins, Leigh and Miles. Anthony Perkins adaptation of the most mysterious, misunderstood character is perfect. This is one of the best acting performances I have ever seen, and i am happy to admit  it is most likely the second greatest on screen performance of all time (James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause is first).  Janet Leigh does an outstanding job as Psycho's leading lady and an equally convincing and superb characterisation is portrayed by Vera Miles as the sister Lila Crane. But even minor characters like Martin Balsam as Det. Minton Arbogast or John McIntire as the Sheriff are developed so well and performed outstandingly.

Despite the amazing acting, this film will forever be remembered as the epitome of film making. The storyline is original, unseen and unmatched. Similar to what my friend Tom said, this film is pretty much a masterpiece and has been directed so incredibly by the ultimate film director. Hitchcock's film making is unparalleled and beautiful to say the least. The set, characters, story and spooky and classic shots of the now famous Bates household is... Well just Psycho!! Just so distinctively Hitchcock!!!

This film consists of some of the best cinematography ever and Hitchcock is so clever in the way he has created such a superb visually montage. I dig the opening credits, the way in which the dates and dimes are projected onto the screen, the close up of bates’ crazed smile and the lighting is also outstanding. I especially like the way in which the camera follows Norman up the stairs to his mother’s room, and then drifts into a stationary position the ceiling. To me, that is beauty.

To give you an example of how powerful the screenplay and cinematography (and music) of this film is, I shall try my best explain my response most famous movie scene in cinema history. As the beautiful Marion Crane slips of her gown and walks into the shower, a mysterious figure can be seen through the shower curtains. They are pulled back to the screams of Marion as she is stabbed multiple times with the knife to those unforgettable suspenseful sharp chords of the stringed orchestra. Despite the amount of times I have seen that footage, been told that of that scene, heard that music, and despite the fact that this film is 53 years old, I was still terrified watching that.

I have put off writing this review for a while. But it’s hard to describe the historical significance of the film and even harder to explain the way in which I love it and how proud I am to actually like such a cinematic achievement. I honestly think that Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho was the birth of modern cinema and every movie since has been trying to be kinda like it. Despite those attempts, I feel that it still remains unparalleled and will forever be.

***** (5)