Psycho(1960) Film Analysis
Douchet concludes his essay on Hitchcock by highlighting a structural opposition that he sees repeated throughout the directors films. As we have discussed this semester, structural oppositions (like light/shadow, for example, or freedom/confinement, full/empty, order/chaos, life/death, male/female, etc.) can provide a way to link film form with thematic concerns.
Douchet uses a specific visual example from the beginning of Psycho (1960, Alfred Hitchcock) to support his claims, reading in these initial images a key to understanding the film text. Your task is similar. Choose a scene from Psycho (less than 5 minutes in length) to analyze in relation to a structural opposition that you see as crucial to the film.
A few notes on writing about film:
In order to write a successful film analysis, you will need a broad range of knowledge. For example, it helps to know:
> The full range of film techniques, including how, why, and when they are used.
> The entirety of the film you are analyzing, including the themes developed.
> The exact range and order of techniques deployed in the specific sequence you are analyzing (including mise-en-scene, shot selection, framing, camera movement, editing, sound, and narrative strategies).
Film analysis does not primarily involve any of the following:
> Shot description and plot summary (both of which should only be included when they clearly support a broader thesis statement).
> Overly simplistic one-to-one symbolic readings (as in, The A in this sequence means B).
> Unsupported personal opinions.
Film analysis depends primarily on the following:
> Showing how multiple aspects of a sequence or film contribute to a single theme or motif.
> Tracing the way an aspect of film form develops across a sequence or film.
> Showing how one section of a film compares with another (through similarities and/or differences).
> Demonstrating a specific relationship between one segment or aspect of a film and the film as a whole.
Be sure to:
> Give your essay a title.
> Provide a clear and coherent thesis.
> Be specific and comprehensive. Present all the evidence necessary to support your thesis.
> Write economically and proofread your work carefully.
> Avoid unsubstantiated or vague statements about the films place in history (as in, This film is one of the greatest movies ever made or Psycho is a masterpiece that demonstrates Hitchcocks genius).