Hitchcock Deserves His Status as an Auteur
Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born August 13, 1899, Leytonstone,
England, and died in 1980 in Los Angeles, USA, of liver and heart
problems. He went to Ignatius College in London, to the School of
Engineering and Navigation, and then to the University of London. He
started his film career in 1919 illustrating title cards for silent
films at Paramount 's Famous Players-Laskey Studio in London. There he
learned scripting, editing and art direction and rose to assistant
director in 1922. By 1925, he had directed his first finished film, "
The Pleasure Garden" shot in Munich. His breakthrough film, "The
Lodger", came a year later. Alfred Hitchcock directed over 50 films in
total, including "Vertigo" (1958), "Psycho" (1960) and "The Birds"
(1963), and they earned him the title "the master of suspense".
Hitchcock the Auteur
Hitchcock achieved the title "master of suspense" particularly through
his mastery of the technical means to build and maintain suspense. He
used innovative camerawork (viewpoints and movements), editing
techniques, soundtrack, lighting and mise en scene. Because of this
unique style, Hitchcock is considered to be an auteur. "Auteur" is a
French word meaning "author" and was first used to describe a film
director by Francois Truffaut, a French film theorist. The term refers
to a film director with solid technique, a well-defined vision of the
world and a degree of control over production. It is really a way of
saying that a film has a particular director's signature on it.
Psycho - an overview
"Psycho" was such a revolutionary film it founded a whole new film
era, the modern horror genre. The film is about a motel keeper who has
a pathological obsession with his mother and the murder of an innocent
woman who accidentally intrudes into his life. The film begins with
Marion, who steals $40,000 so she can afford to get married. She
drives from the city to her lover and, on the way, stops at the Bates
Motel where she meets the owner, Norman, a very nervous but friendly
young man. After hearing over tea with Norman about his relationship
with his mother, Marion retreats to her room where she has a shower
before bed. While in the shower she is brutally murdered by what seems
to be Norman's mother. Later, when a private investigator goes looking
for Marion, he is also horrifically murdered by the "mother" and only
when Marion's sister, Leila, accompanied by Marion's lover, Sam, comes
looking for her do we discover that the "mother" is actually Norman.
He had been dressing up as his mother since killing her, along with
her second husband, many years earlier.
The Parlour Scene
A key scene in Psycho is the parlour scene. Nothing horrible happens...