Monday, January 10, 2011
The master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock’s, ‘Psycho,’ continues to captivate, and inspire film critics, filmmakers, writers, and all who has the need to dissect his work in order to understand his genius. A Long Hard Look at ‘Psycho’ is an extensive study of the classic film and our reactions to the ingenious shots, sound, and imagery – an assessment into the mind of the master of suspense. Durgnat analysis every aspect of each scene filmed, and continues too – for lack of a better word, dismember many scenes.
Let us look at the man known as one of the most well respected critics of our time. Durgnat was an experienced writer, a fanatic film history scholar, and a master of critiques with a distinctive style to say the least. In the late 1970s, he taught film in California along side, Manny Farber, Jean-Pierre Gorin and Jonathan Rosenbaum. He often lectured on cinema at several academic institutions towards the end of his life in 2002. He was the author of several groundbreaking books such as, Films and Feelings (1967), A Mirror For England (1970), Sexual Alienation in the Cinema (1971), The Strange Case of Alfred Hitchcock and Jean Renoir (both 1974), and a study of WR: Mysteries of the Organism in the BFI film classics series (1999).
On page 176 ‘Making Conversation,’ Durgnat describes the feelings of the first-time viewer towards Norman and a small portion of it reads as follows, “As deceitful in this conversation as he is, it’s in a vulnerable way, as a victim of Arbogast’s aggression, so he benefits from the ‘Marnie effect’ (audience sympathy for a hard pressed criminal in difficulty). He’s very sensitive, in a way quite fresh among villains, and it elicits what Hollywood called ‘audience recognition’ – the audience recognizing, on screen, its own, intimate experience – in this case, of exasperating conversations. Norman’s situation may be ‘melodramatic’ (extreme), but his ‘surface sensitivity’ finds echoes aplenty in us.”
In all I found Raymond Durgnat’s categorization of (Alfred Hitchcock’s), ‘Psycho’ annoying, stimulating, and at certain points in the book nothing short of – mind blowing! I did find it to be a scholastic read and one I will not soon forget. I am proud to add it to my book collection and I know that you will be too.
Bookpleasures Review, by Barbara Watkins - Freelance Reviewer