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					Multimedia Study of Horror

“Psycho” Response Questions

1. Many key sequences in “Psycho” have little or no dialogue. Hitchcock called this technique "pure
cinema" because it allowed him to tell a story in purely visual terms and to create a psychological
effect by juxtaposing images. The most prominent example occurs immediately before, during, and
after the shower sequence. Taken together, these scenes last more than ten minutes. How does
Hitchcock develop character, plot, and tension in purely visual terms (either in the above
mentioned sequence or elsewhere)? The focus of your answer should be on storytelling and
filmmaking techniques.
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2. Another film technique of note is montage, the process of editing pieces of film to achieve a
specific emotional response in the audience. Consider how Hitchcock effectively uses montage in
the shower sequence. What do the viewers actually see happen, and what do they infer based on
how the images are presented? How do they respond emotionally to what happens? Also, how does
Bernard Herrmann's musical score enhance the mood here and elsewhere? You might wish to
watch the shower sequence once with the sound turned down to see how differently it plays.
(Hitchcock, by the way, initially instructed the composer not to score music for this sequence.)
Hermann described his film score, which consists solely of orchestral stings (with no horns, reeds,
or percussion), as "black and white" music, intending it to complement the stark mood and texture
of the black and white cinematography.
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posted:1/24/2013
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