Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho

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Psycho is often argued to be Hitchcock’s scariest film. Not only is this down to the terrifying plot and Hitchcock’s trademark visual imagery, featuring extreme angles and shadows, but also the music that plays an important role in creating this ominous atmosphere. It is also accredited with being a revolutionary scene for its time, making way for future horror films to come. Without the iconic ‘shower scene’ string music, it is hard to imagine the scene having the same impact on the audience, as Hitchcock cleverly matched the cuts onscreen to the music. However, music, or a soundtrack in general, was not always considered as imperative to the creation of a tone within a scene as it was in Hitchcock’s era. Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times is…show more content…
The film would be classed as a horror or thriller, and Hitchcock chose this score as it assists in portraying to this genre audience. This is because this particular music adds to the ‘creepy’ tone of the movie overall, but particularly in the shower scene. It is in this scene where we witness the brutal murder of one of the main characters, Marion. Sound and music is crucial to the tone and impact of this scene, somewhat signaled the fact Herrmann titled the music in the scene ‘The Murder’. The violin-based score has “achieved the status of cultural shorthand – denoting imminent violent insanity”. Considering Hitchcock originally envisioned this iconic scene without music, it is hard to imagine it would have had the same impact. Once Hitchcock heard the piercing string music that has become synonymous with the shower scene, he was converted. Furthermore, the impact of music in the scene is emphasized by the fact that at the pre-release screenings shown without Herrmann’s score, viewers reacted with “mild indifference”. It was only when they were shown the second version with the added music that “people leapt out of their seats”. Furthermore, the composer had not worked in hand in hand with the director to produce this soundtrack, it is argued the “artistic qualities of the director” would have suffered. In this, probably one of cinema’s most famous scenes, “Hitchcock uses editing and sound as cinematic manipulation to create a carefully thought out murder scene”
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