Angulo Arquitectura


Psycho house_” Psicosis” 1960

 22 March 2014

Inspired by the homonymous novel written by Robert Blocks, is probably, the most influential thriller, (not to say horror) in the history of cinema. Hitchcock changed the usual cinematic language by an exquisite management of subjective shots, accented with natural ease when managing audiovisual narrative mechanisms.

He had an innate talent and well learned profession. At age twenty he began working at a small film production company, so he learned the art from below. He started making silent films labels and ended as great director.

Original title: Psycho

Year: 1960

Duration: 109 min.

Country: United States

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Screenplay: Joseph Stefano (Novel: Robert Bloch)

Music: Bernard Herrmann

Fotography: John L. Russell (B&W)

Cast: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, John Gavin, Vera Miles, John McIntire, Martin Balsam, Simon Oakland, Patricia Hitchcock

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Genre: Terror. Horror, thriller

Well, after this introduction , data sheet included, let´s go to go Norman’s house … well, or to his mother´s …  I’m not sure …

This is a colonial style house. It consists of a central body and both annexes generating a plant cross. The tower of principal facade  looks out above the rest of the volume. It also has an arcaded area “U” shaped  that serves as a connection between outer space and the ground floor lobby.

It is located on a hill with an unevenness of 5 meters with respect to the explanade of the Motel (level 0), and is accessed through a zigzag staircase consisting of 28 stair steps.

As can be appreciated in different sets of the film, the house has basement, ground and first floor. (Details of the book of Steven Jacobs, “The wrong house” which discusses how the director used the art direction, the stage design and architectural elements in his films.

The mansard roof with porthole in the central tower, gives evidence of the existence of a scary loft, but we know that in tito Alfredo´s films, nothing is what it seems …

The cover consists of hexagonal tiles overlapping like fish scales. The corners of the roof are covered by profiles of zinc, and the skin of exterior facade is solved with a pattern of wooden slats, very typical of the colonial style.

Inside the house, the wooden stairs play an important role as a metaphorical connection between the three levels of psychoanalysis as a justification of multiple personality disorder of Norman.

In his documentary “The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema” (2006), Slavoj Žižek points out that the house of Norman Bates has three plants representing the three levels that psychoanalysis of Freud attributes to the human mind, the first level (first floor ) would be the “Superego”, where Bates’s mother lives, the ground floor would be the “Ego” where Bates acts as a seemingly normal human being and, finally, the basement would be the “Id” or unconscious, as symbol of the connection between the Superego and Ego.

Just in this flight of steps, we can enjoy an overhead camera angle resource. Hitchcock chose this option because he believed that focusing on Norman’s mother back again, the public may suspect that their intention was not to show his face. Hitch played with this frames projecting shadows on the side walls.

Aesthetically, the unattended garden fuels the perception of a sinister environment and the grimy curtains look like they are going to be slightly withdrawn at any time, causing additional stress on the viewer.

Hitchcock employed forced frames to cause anxiety, fear or empathy … and developed a new form of film editing .

He was expert  generating subjective camera angles like this. I’ve always wondered how It is made to get this picture…  the lens camera was not affected by water splash.

Well, we’ve talked a little bit about movie and architecture … As we can already see in other movies and you will have already guessed, this is a film set. It was built in Laramie Street (Paramount Studios).

 Only was built a part of the main facade and right side. The tower and the rest of the front facade were recovered from another house, “Allison & Harvey house” in “Colonial street”, another Universal Studios set area . The interiors of both the house and the motel were shot in Hall A of the 18 studies.

Under these lines … “Allison & Harvey house” on a frame of the movie “Rock-A-Bye Baby” (1958) starred two years earlier by Jerry Lewis.

It is curious to observe how a film shot in 1958 dazzles brand Technicolor  and “Psycho”, filmed two years later comes in black / white. The reason was that the Paramount cut the budget ,because They doubted the quality and profitability of the project thinking that the film would be subject to censorship. So … Hitchcock, who had purchased the rights to the novel and had retreated it from the bookstores, resigned his salary as director ($ 250,000) to make the film, in exchange for 60% of the rights.

Paramount agreed and the film was recorded with a team of TV b / n. In fact, for this occasion did not hire any Hollywood star as he had done in previous titles.

On the other hand, he thought that shooting the film in black and white would help to the blood flowing in shower scene,  to lower its visual impact to escape of censorship. Actually blood is chocolate syrup, that in  b/w  movie is more realistic than the substitute employed.

Paramount distributed the film (1960-1968), but several years later sold its shares to Shamley Productions (Alfred Hitchcock Presents) and Universal Pictures distributed the 1968 film onwards.

Initially,  Hitchcock  had no intention of musical support to the shower scene. Bernard Hermand was who composed music on his own initiative. With the passing of time, the director admitted that a third of the success of the film was due to its Soundtrack. In this pic, Alfredo overseeing the tune …

Musical score of the most screeching track of the movie … a total of 40 cuts that form the soundtrack.

In graphic department, both the credits as the storyboard, ran account Saul Bass. A true master of motion graphics and hand drawing.

Returning to the architectural path … the style and type of  chosen home, not arise by chance. It seems that Hitchcock based on this painting  of the American painter 1925 Edwar Hopper (1882-1967) “House by the railway” currently exposed at the MoMA in NYC.

As we discussed earlier, initially the “set” of the house consisted of two unique facade panels. Later, It was built the rest of the enclosure for the filming of ‘Invitation to a Gunfighter “(1964) by Richard Wilson. Also at that time the house had become one of the main attractions in visits to Universal Studios and was not plan to disappoint the fans.

However inside…, wooden structure bracing  facades and a few tons of debris to make  base … It is the magic of cinema …

It would be reused for the ‘Laredo’  (1965-66),  ‘Question of fear’ (1971), ‘ Night gallery ‘, the’ Emergency ‘(1972) and ‘ Captains and kings’ (1976) serials.

After twenty years, was dismantled in December 1980, and rebuilt in another location for the filming of ‘Psycho II’ (Richard Franklin, 1983) . About Michael Knight and his car … no comment!

Changing issue, I found interesting to share this collection of images by John Eaves, which makes the comparison of multiple locations of the film with a lag of 50 years. For example this of the city of Phoenix when Marion flees  loot in hand.

As you know, there is no Hitchcock movie with out cameo … Just 7:00 minutes into the film looks at the entrance to the estate agency. And at the same price … her daughter, Patricia Hitchcock, … playing the mate of Marion.

Pure Surrealism… Bates talking to a fly during the creepy ending monologue, after which Hitchcock gets us whiplash as subliminal message fusing the image of Bates with his mother´s.

“Psycho” was premiered in New York, in the DeMille Theatre (Broadway) on Thursday June 16, 1960.

The screenplay has been subject to numerous sequels and prequels, in most cases of doubtful success, os opposed to the acceptance of the 1960´s tape. Such were the expectations ans secrecy that were generated surrounding the movie, that in the promotional trailers, Hitchcock asked viewers like Billy Wilder style: “Don´t unveil the end … I have another! “

Remarkable albeit the adaptation of Simpson, that for my part … deserves mention for colorful and creative.

Well… as before, we say goodbye to this post, with the traditional closing credits of the tape, under the watchful eye of Marion Crane and Hommer Simpson …

Who knows … if in the near future, his home of Evergreen Terrace (Springfield) … may appear in this section … There you have it …

Thanks a lot for your time and support … until next time!!

A hug …


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