PSYCHO: FILM REVIEW

I love editing. It’s one of my favorite parts about filmmaking.

Steven Spielberg

Editing is an important creative aspect that occurs during the post-production stage. It involves the process of selecting shots and arranging them in a manner to provide coherence. Editing is equally as important as capturing footage, making a league of a difference on the outcome produced and the impact created.

A classic must-watch by Alfred Hitchcock, the film Psycho has high octane suspense with brilliant editing skills. To have edited a film seamlessly through limited technology in the bygone era is truly commendable.It revolves around the female protagonist Marion Crane who mysteriously disappears after robbing $40,000 to start life afresh with her boyfriend. When the hunt begins for the woman, more and more suspisions are raised.

Montage editing was primarily used for the editing process of the film. In the words of Hitchcock himself, “Montage means the assembly of pieces of film which move in rapid succession of the eye to create an idea”. The most popular scene in the entire film is the murder in the shower area. It has been perfectly montaged to provoke the imagination as to what happened. An interesting fact to be noted, around 78 pieces of film were used in a span of 45 seconds to convey murder. Despite the availability of colour film in that era, the film was particularly shot in black and white for this particular sequence to avoid being censored for violence.

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A sequence of shots assembled for continuity in visual imagery

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A scene from the murder sequence.

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An indirect medium to convey the message.

The scene also wittily uses something called a match-cut which connects two otherwise non-linked objects seamlessly more so for an aesthetic composition.The element connecting the two objects can be shape, size or colour etc. During the murder scene, a match cut was used to link a drain at the murder site to the iris of the dead woman’s left eye.

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Drain at the murder site.

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Left eye of the deceased.

Hitchcock  brilliantly depicted fear in Marion’s eyes when she escaped town. Deep focus shots were taken with key focus paid on tensed eyes and expressions. Apart from exceptional dialogue delivery, the use of close shots on Marion effectively depicted  fear and discomfort.

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A deep focus shot

One of the oldest shots known in cinematography, the dissolve or fade effect was also used frequently in the film to connect two different scenes coherently together.

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Dissolve effect

Overall the movie is a classic example of a well edited film that  creates impact without letting the audience notice it doing so. Done in the style of montage editing, Psycho is a must-watch for every cinephile!


References

1. BrainyQuote, n.a, Editing Quotes, Available on: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/editing.html, Accessed on 5 April 2015

2. The Free Dictionary, n.a, Editing, Available on: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/editing.html, Accessed on 5 April 2015

3. The Seventh Art, 2013, Alfred Hitchcock talks about editing using examples from PSYCHO (1960), Available on: http://www.theseventhart.org/dailies/2013/04/30/clip-alfred-hitchcock-talks-about-editing-using-examples-from-psycho-1960/, Accessed on 5 April 2015

4. College Film & Media Studies, 2014, Editing, Available on: http://collegefilmandmediastudies.com/editing/, Accessed on 5 April 2015

5. Faculty.cua, n.a, Continuity Editing, Available on: http://faculty.cua.edu/johnsong/hitchcock/pages/editing.html, Accessed on 5 April 2015

*Images are screenshots from the film ‘Psycho’.

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