Film Scene Analysis: Psycho

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Film Scene Analysis

The film I have chosen is “Psycho”(1) and the scene I will be analysing occurs around the thirty-five minute mark, when Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) and Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) are conversing in the parlour of Norman’s office. This scene is critical to the rest of the film for a number of reasons and is expressed largely through the mise-en-scène. The scene opens with a low-shot of a stuffed owl with its wings spread overlooking the room. In later shots of Norman the owl can be seen in the background and appears to be surveying him. This camera shot, combined with Norman’s quote that his mother “is as harmless as one of those stuffed bird”(2), means it could be argued that the owl is a symbol for Mrs. Bates. The quote is ironic as she is, of course, harmless due to the fact that she died ten years ago and is now nothing more than a corpse, however, like the owl, she is still “overlooking” him and has a large degree of control over his actions.
The lighting of this scene is also of particular note. There is only one source of light in the room, a lone lamp on a desk to Marion’s left, and the effect this has is profound. We observe that Marion is basked in warm light, symbolising her status as the protagonist and also showing that, although she has strayed towards a path of notoriety in stealing the money, there is still hope for her. Norman, alternatively, is shrouded in shadow, signifying his darker side that we have not yet witnessed. It is also
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