Try as you might, you’ll never entirely understand the shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. And by understand, I mean grasp its technique: understand why Hitchcock made the choices he made, why he arranged images in the sequence he chose, why this scene seems, time after time, such a concentration of cinematic energy. You can poke and prod the scene, even map it out meticulously, as Lorenzo Gerbi has done in this excellent video essay–graphing it, monitoring the shifts in focus and the shifts in attenuation as the scene moves forward. And you will gain a certain kind of "understanding" from that activity. But you’ll never fully feel as if you’ve pinned it down, and, if the truth were told, the chances are good that Hitchcock himself would not be able to explain all the choices he made. As dangerous as it may be to make generalizations about creative works, it’s safe to say art doesn’t operate like that. The scene is a masterpiece of planning and deliberation, and as a result it is one of the most watched and talked-about scenes in the history of film. But it also maintains that status because lightning struck, and Hitchcock happened to be in the right place to absorb it, and he transformed his momentary electrocution into the transcendent sequence you can watch here.
WATCH: The Shower Scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’: A Shot by Shot Analysis