Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) – Scene: A Boy’s Best Friend

Psycho 4 Norman

– Brittaney Petsinis

Norman’s hand rests on the stuffed bird above him as he sits in the dark corner, speaking in front of his mimicking shadow. What appears to be a rather long stretch, perhaps conveys the idea of burden; one that could be understood as the burden of his mother, whom he proceeds to talk about with extreme mixed emotions. As intended, we are indeed bewildered by Norman’s fascination for stuffed birds as we watch them with intrigue as they hang around the hotel. No proportion of Hitchcock’s audience can possibly think this is normal in any way. Here, we are forced to consider Norman’s intentions which, at this point, we acknowledge may be rather sinister. Despite this, we cut him some slack, and allow Norman a chance to prove us wrong, which he does do at times. In response to Marion’s question, “is your time so empty?”, Norman responds with an evident hesitation and a quickly fading smile. At this point, his eyes wander as though he attempts to seek an appropriate answer, which we inevitably question when he has one. We don’t quite believe him, though also cannot help but pity him.

When Norman speaks the words, “well, a boy’s best friend is his mother”, he speaks them with commitment, largely emphasised through the nod of his head and direct attention as he answers the question. Through this we are perhaps forced to wonder whether his mother is the most important person in his life, or if he speaks the words out of mere obligation. Our confusion is further initiated through the rather long pause prior to his response and his unsupportive body language as he sits with a straight posture and with his hands in his lap. Here, there is a clever depiction of nervousness and hesitation and we cannot help but wonder why. Norman’s shadow on the wall behind him as he speaks, is perhaps a representation of his mother; the woman that he could not escape, even if he wanted to. It also cleverly serves to portray a dominant figure over Marion, and indeed, the idea of ‘two against one’.

Marion’s vulnerability is largely conveyed through her softly spoken voice and her delicately resting hand that hangs off the side of the table she sits at. Despite this, there is a clever depiction of cautiousness particularly obvious through the regular pauses before she speaks. Her eyes wander, portraying a sense of nervousness, confusion and fear of Norman’s ability to accurately assume Marion’s life. The set of the room, additionally allows for a rather accurate interpretation of the differing characters. Behind, and to the right of Marion, is a well-lit lamp and neatly placed ornaments, and in front of her, delicate ceramic objects; one, decorated with painted flowers. Despite this, the unmissable clutter in the room, and the dark curtain behind Marion, through its repetitive, busy pattern, could indeed be said to convey the idea of approaching complications.         In contrast to the surroundings of Marion, there is nothing ‘delicate’ about what surrounds Norman. Beside Norman is a clutter of birds in what appears to be a decorative plant. As this indeed helps to portray Norman as a sinister character, it cleverly sets up the idea of Marion as a victim.

There is an evil and engulfing nature about the room, largely supported by Norman’s words, “we’re all in our private traps”. In acknowledgement of Marion’s escape, he evidently speaks the words through experience; one that seems to have tormented him throughout his life. As he continues to speak, each of his fingers on his two interlocked hands, fidget with the remaining nine. He evidently speaks in reference to his mother who he claims to be his best friend, though is conveyed as such a burden. Hitchcock cleverly delivers the idea that Norman’s mother has him trapped, which we later establish, is quite literally the case.

As he speaks such evil words about his mother, he appears to be engulfed by a haunting, large winged bird that hangs from the ceiling, again metaphorically conveying the harshness of his mother, watching his every move in a dead and helpless state. Despite the haunting nature of the surrounding creatures, there is an evident love that Norman holds for the dead, stuffed birds, cleverly suggestive of the love that he too, holds for his mother, despite her apparent harshness.




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