Watch: Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ is a Game of Perspectives
Consider this story: a woman steals some money, runs away with it, goes to a small motel, is murdered by the proprietor. Moderately interesting by itself, possibly with some potential for suspense–but this is not necessarily a gripping tale, especially when you add on an extra storyline: the woman’s sister comes after her, followed by a private detective, both of whom are murdered. Again, it’s interesting: if you saw it in the newspaper, you might "tsk" at it and then move on. And then, even if you add on the eccentric twist–the murderer dresses up as his mother–you still have a bare bones story. Of course he was a psychopath: look what he did! Alfred Hitchcock turned ‘Psycho’ into a classic by using this skeleton story to construct a madhouse of a tale, something like a cross between a house of mirrors, a surrealist novel, and a collage of tabloid headlines. One of his primary lines of attack, as shown in this brilliant video essay by Julian Palmer, was to constantly shift the perspective from which the story is told, so that viewers’ sympathies are perpetually changing, at times moving into uncomfortable territory as we find ourselves looking at the world through the eyes of Norman Bates, of all people. In a sense, the suspense becomes less about the murder, or its investigation, than about what we, as viewers, will discover about ourselves and our sympathies next.
Watch: In Alfred Hitchcock’s Films, We All Become Voyeurs
Watch enough of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, and you will eventually notice that characters can repeatedly be seen simply watching. James Stewart’s Jeff Jefferies in ‘Rear Window’ watches his neighbors through binoculars. Ben McKenna in ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ watches his adversaries from a dark balcony. Norman Bates in ‘Psycho’ watches… well, you know what he watches. What does this watching represent, ultimately? In part, it’s bound to the films’ narratives, which all involve spectatorship of one kind or another–but in a broader sense, viewers are implicated, as if the very act of taking in a story involves voyeurism, of a kind. Jorge Luengo’s new video piece takes us through Hitchcock’s most poignant moments of said voyeurism with enthusiasm and verve.
Watch: Inarritu’s ‘Birdman’ Is a Collage of Edits, Not Just One Take
The kind souls at the YouTube channel The Film Theorists have served up a doozy with this piece on Alejandro González Iñárritu’s ‘Birdman," demonstrating not only that the film’s "single take" technique is actually the result of a myriad of takes, carefully spliced together and masked with the swerves of the camera–but also that this approach all started with Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 film ‘Rope." Watch. Learn. Enjoy. Fly.
Watch: Stanley Kubrick Meets Alfred Hitchcock Meets Stanley Kubrick Meets…
This is one of the more quietly bizarre, mind-altering films you’ll watch for a very long while. Building on the idea that all films talk to each other and that images and scenarios flow freely between them, the editors at Gump have taken several classic Alfred Hitchcock films and planted figures from classic Stanley Kubrick films within them. And vice versa. We have Jack Torrance from ‘The Shining’ staring across a courtyard at Jimmy Stewart’s wheelchair-bound voyeur from ‘Rear Window.’ We have Jimmy Stewart wandering into the orgy from ‘Eyes Wide Shut.’ And so on, increasingly intensely, until we really do begin to wonder if these two directors weren’t closer, even, than we might have thought previously.