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The discussion will focus on the film Psycho by Hitchcock so as to explore the aspect of cultural analysis of the media text. The media text is also analyzed in reference to the relationship between representations and the conditions placed in the production and consumption. The cultural consumption explored is in relation to social and cultural perceptions at the time the film was produced and released.
The production of psycho falls into the film institution. The cultural analysis of the media text contained herein makes a connection between productions of the film as a cultural good. It also shows the regulations imposed on the institution comprised of Hitchcock, the producer and the production team by the government via the production code board and the censorship board. The film belongs to the film noir style, this can be seen in the idea that ultimately it ends in failure. This is because although the murders mysteries are finally solved at the end, the 'Mother' still is in control of Norman as well as his mind. The black and white shoot is also typical of film noir as it is able to allow a clear distinction between dark and light with the shadows being a prominent feature.
Media text analysis of psycho
Psycho was release in 1960 marking a turning point for the man, Hitchcock, who seemingly ventured into a corner unknown previously. This film came late in the director's career. Earlier in the 1940, he had experimented with films for the sake of effect (Rope, Lifeboat). This gave way to the experimentation so as to drive a stake into the establishment just for profundity sake in the 1950s and the 1960s. The film, psycho, deviate from other made by the director in previous decade in three ways: it was fast and cheap, utilized only half of his standard crew in the shot; had sexual overtone that was really scandalous as well as made the loudest announcement that the 50s were over; also the director put the greatest monetary stake for it to succeed than he had done on previous films (Anobile Richard 5).
The three main elements most significant for institutions of media are: (1) the economies of scale (2) new services/products or reduction of labor and (3) the enhancement of products. These are all encompassed in the film production. Hitchcock pitched the film to his staff and to paramount as "a low-budget, simple American shocker, similar to his TV show style, that would provide a breather from the more grandiose, lavish productions'. This was not as popular with others as one would anticipate and left him to forge ahead with a production crew that was largely different from his usual reliable personnel. To save money, he deferred his salary, shot the film in black and white (this was so as to cut on budget costs as well as to disguise the color of blood) as well as kept the project low-key. This does not compromise the quality of the film and was meant to increase profits and the films competitiveness (Graeme Burton 15).
Using an independent agent for a one-time fee of 9000 dollars he bought the Robert Bloch's novel, 1959. The whole production cost pramount pictures roughly 800,000 dollars at the time. In present day terms, this equates to around 8.5 million dollars. In comparison, this was a fifth of what his previous film cost. The intention was to make a B-movie, the end product was a picture far superior than any other movie in that class in all essential elements: the vision, the star, the intentional foray into controversy, the screenplay tightness and the planning that is meticulous synonymous with a Hitchcock film. Psycho is a marvelous piece of work with the director performing excellently in determining what to keep and what to cut working artifice into the theme. The cinematic language used in psycho is careful and clear. Though we can reasonable assess that the meanings derived from the picture only exist in the minds of people, audience and the producer (Graeme Burton 48).
The dominant code present in the film is visual language. This covers the use of composition as well as the camera use (Graeme 50). The visual code utilized in the film is black and white with the camera angle acting on a primary level as a sign. Early in the movie, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) makes a stop at the Bates Motel as a rainstorm is raging. Here, she meets Norman (Anthony Perkins). Hitchcock manages to manipulate the audience's impressions in this scene in a staggering manner, from the obvious to the subconscious. Culturally, we are trained to feel leery in locales that are isolated but also to cautious not to drive in such intense weather, thus the audience waivers between comfort and fear. Marion at the time makes a decision that seems wisest, the audience goes with her. The director builds the tension steadily instead of letting it deflate. The question "is she safe?" lingers, the audience is left to think so something that is underscored by the shot of a textual cue frame. The shot is of folded newspaper in her pass. The due to the shape of the newspapers only the part of a headline is seen stating "OKAY" (Screen Savour 1).
Perkin's performance as Norman makes the audience's radar murky as he impeccably captures how awkward niceties can be both simultaneously creepy and reassuring. There is an ebb and flow of curiosity and tension, Norman's fervent awareness of his boundaries and Marion's obliviousness of hers. The remarkable editing keeps the pace as it lowers the audience into a sense of comfort through formality and repetition, but once again jerks us willingly to the potential danger this situation presents by rearranging the staging or shifting angles (Branston, Gill & Stafford Roy 51).
Hitchcock's most subversive element is what helps this film to drive the tension. Initially, Marion appears to be the primary character in film leaving the audience to wonder why Norman has such a powerful presence. At this point, all the storytelling elements seem to indicate hat the two characters are equal. This is a core question in the audience especially because of the two seems to materialize out of nothing. The center of gravity in the film shifts beneath Norman's and Marion's scenes. This culminates in the apex of the story for Marion where the foothill of Norman's story emerges with the infamous shower scene (Brannston, Gill & Stafford Roy 51).
The shower scene earns the film its cinematic canon because of simply what it is, a horrifying murder, this scene still haunts people as they shower, and what it is not, discreet, lacking in fanfare and even handed that shoe only the slightest moment of the knife penetrating the flesh. The scene is self standing but gains a richer form and meaning when taken in the film's context. The audience has a glimmer of hope for Marion as she recants on her crime, the virtual silence for the person's last moments that are unknown. This is followed by a staccato of icy strings by Hermann. Then we finally watch Norman frantically cleaning-up and the powerful scene as the car sinks in a pond nearby. This scene is expertly built in terms of cinematic skill and cultural recognition. The scene served as pure cinema as well as provided a gearshift inside the film. This is the part of the story that officially transcends Marion's story and is placed in the shoulders of Norman. From this point on the story follows Norman until the end. The final scenes where a prison psychiatrist gives a verbose and fumbling diagnosis of Norman, offers a slight misstep in its plot. This decision was made intentionally so as to bring the film to an end immediately as well as to avoid the audience experiencing any kind of decompression (Branston, Gill & Stafford Roy 52).
The production code board understandably struggled with the approval of psycho. The opening scene where Leign is shown only in her white lingerie was a point of contention. This was after her unmarried tryst that afternoon with Sam Loomis (John Gavin). Such expressions were not yet culturally acceptable. The shower scene sequence provided the greatest contention in the entire film. Surprisingly and to the director's delight, the reason for this was because of the potential display of nudity in the scene rather than the brutal murder. According to Rebello (1991), three of the board members supposedly saw nudity while two of them did not. The demanded a removal of the nudity after which they were to watch the film again. When this requirement was met the three became satisfied while the other two who had been okay were livid (Rebello Stephen 146).
The production code office finally signed off on psycho but numerous decency boards cautioned against it heavily. Psycho became one of the gambits of the 1950s and the 1960s that helped to weaken the strength of the code. It became an instant phenomenon on being released with a great pulling of an audience whenever/wherever it was screened. As such, the culture tide became stronger than the censors (Rebello Stephen 147).
The film commanded more return visits than any other film previously made. This made the film to rank second in terms of total gross earnings in 1960 and earned the director his fifth and final Nomination for Best Director in the Academy Awards. The film displays the randomness of death in an emotionally powerful and shocking manner than any other film by the director. Overall we are able to see that sound, camera, editing and mise-en-scen are all utilized successfully in the film to represent both the style of film noir and the horror genre (Screen Savour 1).
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