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Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock was a film director who was steeped in the two major traditions of the motion picture, the fluid camera of F.W. Murnau and the editing techniques of the Russians like Eisenstein and Pudovkin. In Psycho, both traditions are evident and are used masterfully by the director to create suspense, to convey information without words, to illuminate character, and to develop the pace of the film. Hitchcock uses the fluid camera in different ways depending on the context. Camera movement during the first portion of the film creates an ambience around the main character, Marion Crane, as she travels away from the city. Much of this journey is shown with the camera looking at her through the front window of her car, and the movement is implied by the roadway disappearing behind the car. The music in this section is also fluid, ominous yet flowing as the character moves away from the scene of her crime. Once the fluid camera is established, it is used in conjunction with tight editing in sequences such as the one in which the detective hired by Marion's sister searches the Bates house, leading to the second murder. A close analysis of this scene shows how the two traditions--a fluid camera and montage--are melded by Hitchcock for the best effect.

Hitchcock uses the fluid camera as a suspense device, for it glides through rooms slowly, showing every detail while always implying that something is about to happen. The film as a whole moves from the beginning, using details to build the plot and character within the confines of a particular mood. Marion is discovered with her lover in the opening scene by a camera that flows through the window of their hotel room like a peeping eye. Cutting while Marion is at work guides the viewer through her every action as she embezzles a large sum of money and makes her way out the door and to her car. The car drives through the night with a flowing movement that is still tentative, ...

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Alfred Hitchcock. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:31, June 02, 2020, from