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78/52

Directed by Alexandre O. Philippe

USA, 2017

HOME, 26 October 2017
78/52

Pull out the shower scene in Psycho, allow myriad movie mavens to mull it over, and what have you got? Answer: a superb documentary, this one.

You learn a lot, like for example that Scorsese used the structure, the very structure, of the shower scene when shooting the fight sequences in Raging Bull. He treated it as fixed form poetry, almost, as poets have retained and used the metre and rhyme scheme of the sonnet form throughout the ages. You learn as well that when Norman Bates spies on Marion, the painting he removes from the wall to unearth his peek hole is a version of ‘Susanna and the Elders’, which typically shows a young woman bathing and being spied upon and attacked by some dirty old men. (Rubens and Tintoretto are perhaps the most famous artists who painted the theme.) It is a painting that presages Marion’s fate, though only one detail among many: another is the rain pelting her car as she drives away from Phoenix into the nest of the young man who stuffs birds.

We had the opportunity to see Psycho again shortly afterwards and, well, what to add? You are more aware now, perhaps, of how Marion is harassed and pursued by men (the cowboy tycoon, the policeman, Bates himself). Though this is, in a sense, Hitchcock’s main theme, which finds its apex in Vertigo: how men who adore women yet mould and manipulate them.

Anyway, a great documentary about a masterpiece.