kchriste replied to Dr. Rich Edwards's topic in The Master of Suspense: 50 Years of HitchcockThe cameo with Hitchcock and his dogs is a great set up for the Birds. This wonderful cameo showing domesticated and obedient pet dogs is a great contrast to the random and brutal attacks of normally peaceful birds later in the film. The opening seen establishes the status quo in which animals (such as pet dogs and birds) are subject to control and imprisonment to humans (either by leash or cage), but soon this established norm will be over turned. I can't help but view the leash as fetish object in a Hitchcockian sense given the extensive use of handcuffs and ropes as motifs throughout many of his films. Finally, as this is a film depicting the apocalypse, the cameo has an oddly Biblical feeling to it showing the dogs paired much as animal entering Noah's arch prior to the flood. Their are several other couples in the film (a pair of love birds, and Melanie/Mitch) mirroring Hitchcock's pair of pet dogs. Interestingly Annie Hayworth who has no partner to pair with does not survive the apocalypse.
kchriste replied to Dr. Rich Edwards's topic in The Master of Suspense: 50 Years of HitchcockThe title design for Psycho created by Saul Bass summarizes key elements of plot, and thematic content. The two tone vertical and horizontal bars symbolizes the spit personality of Normal Bates. The slashing vertical bars foreshadow the movement of a slashing knife. Vertical bars also suggest blood oozing down a wall. Horizontal bars moving both from the left and right of the frame create a sense of motion and movement, while at the same time give the viewer a feeling of being trapped with no escape from the frame, hinting at a fate Marion Crane can not escape. The vertical bars slash through Janet Leigh’s name punctuating her sense for being trapped in this film as well her ultimate fate at the Bates Hotel. The score by Bernard Hermann creates a perfect audio accompaniment to the slashing vertical bars, and is the sound equivalent of a slashing knife. The score also creates a sense of moving forward but with no chance for escape from the looping, repetitive phrasing. Finally, the discordant score produce anxiety in the listener for which there is no escape while viewing Psycho. By being very specific to day, date, and time in Psycho Hitchcock begins a “timer” which hints at the temporal trap Marion Crane has entered. The viewer knows from the very first establishing scenes time is closing in Marion, an inescapable force of fate. Time may also be seen as a metaphor for Marion Crane wanting to move her current relationship from that of lover to wife, and she is beginning to feel trapped by time and the possibility her relationship desires will not be satisfied. The primary reason to establish time so specifically is to heighten the tension and suspense the viewer of Psycho experiences by letting the viewer know time is limited for Marion. Hitchcock’s camera enters the hotel window establing the films viewer as a peeping tom looking in on the life of Marion Crane, just as the viewer of Rear Window becomes a peeping tom, identifying with James Steward’s character. The hotel room helps establish Marion Crane’s character. We first view Marion lying on a bed with a headboard composed of slashing vertical bars, similar to the slashing vertical bars of the film’s tittle sequence. The bed frame is a cell, or better yet a cage for Marion who is a bird trapped in her own private prison. An untouched sandwich sits on a table next to the bed further establishing Marion as bird like (as in “eats like a bird”). The hotel is rented by the hour, and its occupants must leave when “checking out time is up,” again establishing fate is catching up with Marion. There are several references within this short sequence hinting at the limited time for which Marion Crane has prior to her fate catching up with her. Marion Crane tells her lover “this is the last time” they will meet as only lovers, she also states “when your time is up” you have to leave (the hotel). The clandestine nature of Marion “stealing” lunch hints at a future theft which sets into motion Marion’s inescapable fate.