Psycho and Shutter Island

            Many audiences regard Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho as the original horror movie because of its thrilling storyline, unexpected twists, and mysterious plot. It has been praised by audiences for decades and many movies since have taken various elements from this film and added new twists. A modern relative of Psycho is Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island. Like Psycho, Scorsese’s film is both terrifying and mysterious. Both movies twist the audience’s mind to give them a rush of excitement and horror. Psycho and Shutter Island differ in some ways, yet both involve fantastic editing, genre mash-up, and the ideology of self actualization.Image              Image

            Psycho is a classic film about the mysterious activities surrounding the infamous Bates Motel. It is run by a young man, Norman, who supposedly lives alone with his mother. However, no one ever sees the mother and she is only mentioned through Norman. The two are extremely attached to one another and share over-the-top concern for one another. When visitors to the hotel begin to cause trouble for Norman and his mother, they are murdered and it seems no one can solve the mysterious occurrences. A surprise ending reveals that the mother is, in fact, deceased and Norman is living for the both of them. When Marion, a visiting woman, gets too close to Norman the “mother” steps in to murder Marion in order to protect her son. When people come around to question her disappearance, Norman assumes both roles to prevent any detection.

Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island is very similar to Psycho because of its psychologically thrilling nature and horrifying plot. Edward Daniels, a federal marshall, is called to an insane asylum on island to investigate the disappearance of a lethal patient, Andrew Laeddis. Throughout his investigation, Daniels believes he uncovers exactly what is going on at Ashecliffe Hospital (Lehane). He comes to find out that the staff members are performing lethal, illegal operations on patients and that they are the cause for the mysterious occurrences on the island. However, the audience eventually learns that Daniels is Laeddis himself, and that he has made up the whole scheme in a storm of denial.

Between the two great movies, there are fantastic examples of masterful editing. Psycho is directed with various types of shots including rapid shots, shot reverse shot, and trombone shots (Scorsese). During the murder of Marion, the camera jumps rapidly between various shots to give the audience a sense of the hectic and rapid stabbing of the helpless victim. After Marion steals $40,000 from her employer, she flees and eventually is stopped by a stern police man. After letting her go he follows her for some time and Hitchcock utilizes the technique of the shot reverse shot. The camera shoots Marion and then reverses to shoot the cop behind her as if to show her view through her rear-view mirror. This creates senses of suspense and anxiety for the audience who wonders if she will get caught in her crime (Ebert). The unique trombone shot is used when the detective is murdered at the top of the steps. The camera is pulled away from the man while the lens zooms in to give the effect that the man is falling helplessly down the stairs after being stabbed. Shutter Island uses different editing techniques that are just as effective. For example, when Daniels is interrogating a patient of Ashecliffe she asks for a glass of water. However, when she lifts it to her mouth the glass is not in her hand and she sips nothing out of her hand. When the camera shoots her hand again, the glass can clearly be seen empty as she places it on the table. This gives the audience the same feeling of paranoia that Daniels feels in his schizophrenia. The flashbacks throughout Shutter Island are introduced with flashes which lets the audience know that the timeframe and setting are changing. Scorsese also involves the use of continuous editing throughout Daniels’ schizophrenic episodes. When Daniels is about to blow up a car, his sees his daughter walk into frame with his wife. The car explodes and both are engulfed in the flames. However, when the flames subside, the daughter and her mother are both still visible as Daniels runs away. Both films use editing to give the audience the same senses that the main characters feel and instill fear, suspense, and anxiety.



            Both Shutter Island and Psycho are examples of genre mash-ups because of their various elements. The two movies can be classified as thrilling horror films because of the suspense that the directors create in every scene (Bloch). However, both are also crime dramas because the audience is anxious the entire time through both movies. They want to find out exactly what is going on at both the Bates Motel and Ashecliffe Hospital. Shutter Island and Psycho are also examples of psychological thrillers. Edward Daniels and Norman Bates both suffer from psychological disorders and schizophrenic episodes (Holtreman). Hitchcock and Scorsese both use different tactics to tackle various genres and both create films that thrill audiences everywhere.

The idea of self-actualization is the pinnacle of both Shutter Island and Psycho. Both Edward Daniels and Norman Bates lie to themselves and deny the truth in order to act the way they see fit. Daniels denies the truth that he murdered his wife after she murdered their children because he does not want to see himself as a murderer. In fact, he forms elaborate stories, schemes, and scandals in which he is the hero who solves cases. Similarly, Norman Bates assumes the role of both his mother and himself because he denies her death. He acts as both protective mother and son because he was so attached to his mother who loved him. Both directors demonstrate how people in society are so willing to lie to themselves and deny the truth because they do not want to see the negatives of their lives. People are so willing to reach their full potential that they will hide the truth and deliberately entertain extravagant fantasies because they want to see themselves a certain way. Scorsese and Hitchcock go even a step further and let the audience play along with the main characters’ fantasies. Hitchcock deliberately leads the audience to believe that both Norman Bates and his mother are alive. The entire time the audience denies the truth that Mrs. Bates has passed away because it experiences the same delusions Norman does. Similarly, throughout Shutter Island the audience truly feels as if Daniels is the hero the entire time and believes all the wild fantasies he makes up to justify himself. Hitchcock and Scorsese give the audience the same feelings of paranoia and confusion that the main characters feel in their psychotic delusions.



            Although both films are similar in many ways, they also have certain differences. For example, in Psycho the character who the audience is weary of throughout the film is, in fact, the culprit. However, in Shutter Island the protagonist ends up being the one that the audience sees as guilty the entire time. Psycho also deals more with human instinct and action. Many psychologists have theorized about the strong bond between the mother and son as a result of human nature. Norman displays this bond with his mother as he denies her death and acts as a protector. He assumes the role of a mother who takes drastic measures to protect her son as well as the role of a son who is willing to hide his mother from the slightest bit of a harm or detection. Hitchcock also touches on the sexuality of human instinct and desire through the use of the viewer/voyeur. Norman peers through a hole in the wall at Marion who is undressing because he is sexually attracted to her. The camera shoots Marion through the wall to give the audience a feel of what Norman is looking at (Byrne). The audience feels the need to close its eyes because it sees the violation of privacy that Norman is committing. However, it is also intrigued by the sexual appeal of Marion. Hitchcock purposely does this in order to give the audience a perverted feeling. Shutter Island drifts away from basic instinct and touches more on an in-depth, rational human nature. The audience sympathizes with Edward Daniels because he simply wants to achieve his ideal self. He becomes completely engulfed in his new role as a detective that he forgets and denies the truth. On the other hand, Norman bounces between the role of his mother and himself. Hitchcock also includes more types of shots into his film. He uses these shots to create suspense and anxiety. However, Scorsese makes use of other types of editing such as flashbacks and continuous editing to create a storyline of excitement and terror.

Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho set the stage for terrifying thrillers and Shutter Island followed suit with its own elements of suspense and horror. Both movies have fantastic examples of editing. Psycho is famous for its revolutionary shots ahead of its time. Shutter Island is known for its chilling flashbacks and terrifying continuous shots throughout climaxes of excitement and terror. Both movies mash genres including horror, drama, crime, and thriller into masterpieces of their times. The two touch on social ideologies of self-actualization and the idea that humans will cross boundaries to become who they want to, rather than who they are. The two eerie films have unforgettable twists of fate in which the audience realizes the delusions of the main characters. Psycho and Shutter Island are similar for their plots that fool the audience into the schizophrenic episodes of the main characters. However, both characters experience different delusions kick-started by different traumatic events. The two films are different fruits of the same tree and both will be remembered for their terrifying plots, psychological toying, and unexpected twists.

Works Cited

Bloch, Robert. “Psycho.” WorldCat. OCLC, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.

Byrne, Dr. Joseph. “The Male Gaze in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.” Web log post.ENGL245: Film Form and Culture., 14 Oct. 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.

Ebert, Roger. “Psycho.” N.p., 6 Dec. 1998. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.

Holtreman, Vic. “Shutter Island Ending Explanation & Discussion.” N.p., Dec. 2010. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.

Lehane, Dennis. “Shutter Island (Book 2003).” WorldCat. OCLC, n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.

Martin Scorsese. Analysis of Hitchcock: Martin Scorsese on Psycho. Rec. 10 July 2013., n.d. MP3.


Inception Out of Class Writing

My experience watching Inception for the first time was a great movie experience. It was exciting, suspenseful, and took me on a roller coaster of psychological twists and turns. However, after the first time watching it, I did have many different questions and I found myself a little confused. Watching Christopher Nolan’s Inception a second time allowed me to search for those answers as the plot unraveled. I knew the main parts of the movie and so I forced myself to look for the minor details to answer the questions I had after the first time watching it. 

I did notice several new things while watching Inception for the second time. For example, I could better appreciate the rotating hallway fight scene between Arthur and the other men. I also noticed that many shooting techniques have changed over the years. For example, older movies made use of the shot reverse shot during car chase scenes. However, during the van scene, Nolan instead cycled his camera around the outside of the van to show the men chasing on motorcycles shooting at the van. 

Inception definitely embodies the idea of film as an industry. It contains over the top special effects including explosions and street sites shifting shape and direction. It definitely utilizes technology and a high budget to blow its audience away. Inception is a blockbuster because it contains action and drama that appeal to a high majority of audiences. It was widely praised and viewed for its originality. However, it is not a blockbuster in the sense that it is not a cliched action drama with romance and a mediocre storyline. Instead, it contains a fresh storyline, unique action, and a troubled love story. 

Chicago 10 and Documentary Film

Chicago 10 is a documentary on the counter-cultural Yippie movement. It deals with many important topics including violence, peace, and equality. The theme of violence vs. nonviolence is very prevalent in the film because the Yippies consider themselves peace-loving, anti-war peoples. However, there is much violence and destruction as a result of their unorthodox protests. Their cry created much trouble for politicians and it was amplified by the media. The media constantly covered their protests and interviewed Yippies. This just allowed them to get their ideas out even more and steal the spotlight away from serious politicians at a crucial time like a national convention. 

Chicago 10 is a great example of a documentary with non-traditional elements like animation. The story is told through a court hearing, which strengthens its documentary nature. The members are telling their first-hand accounts of a crucial social movement in American history. The animation in the film serves almost as a satire for formality in film. This is perfect for Chicago 10 because the Yippies constantly mocked the formality of government. The animation was the perfect touch for the film and it added a dynamic that made this documentary unique in the world of film. 

The use of animation in Chicago 10 is definitely an artistic and appropriate move by the director and film crew. The Yippies pried themselves on their satire and comical criticism of government and social order. Similarly, animation is not the status-quo of documentary films. Documentaries are generally serious accounts of major events in history. All the animated scenes were scenes in the court room. Court rooms are serious settings where order is maintained and kept under the supreme authority of the judge. However, by animating these scenes, the film-makers are making fun of the seriousness of documentaries and court rooms and adding a comical dynamic. This animation strengthened the message behind the Yippie movement and let the audience know just exactly what they were about as a group. 

Weekend and Social Context

Jean Luc Godard’s Weekend perfectly exemplifies the French New Wave movement. This movie deals with class struggle between the wealthy bourgeois and the lower class citizens. The French New Wave movement centered around social ideologies and beliefs. Throughout history France, and other nations, have been torn between classes. There have been many occurrences of violence between the wealthy and the lower classes. Weekend perfectly represents this constant struggle between classes in one fantastic film. The movie is raw, violent, and unorthodox which represents the madness in the struggle between the rich and the poor.

Godard’s Weekend is the perfect example of a film in social context. It is a direct social commentary of the struggles between the rich and the poor. From the poor’s perspective, they believe they should have access to the same money that the bourgeois has. They believe they are entitled to money and wealth. However, the wealthy believe they should have there money because they worked for everything they have. The driving force that both classes share is greed. Roland and Corinne represent this greed by going to retrieve the inheritance of Corinne’s parents. However, both are plotting to kill the other and both have secret lovers. Greed is prevalent in all of society and its drives people to break the law, murder, and betray those that they love.

Weekend comments on how many members of the French bourgeois class would go out to the countryside on weekends for relaxing mini-vacations. However, this film satirizes this tradition by having Corinne and Roland’s trip turn into a horrible chain of events. The trip is supposed to be leisurely and it is meant to provide special time for the married couple. However, both are secretly planning to murder the other and take the inheritance for themselves. Throughout the trip, the couple encounter bizarre, violent characters and experience car crashes and madness. The idea of a leisurely trip to the countryside aligns with common recreation time in America as well. People enjoy getting away with their significant other for a small vacation. However, the couple in this movie plans to murder the other and take the inheritance because they are overcome with greed and selfishness. 

Avant Garde film

Meshes of the Afternoon is an ideal example of avant-garde film because of its surrel nature. It experiments with conflicts of dreams and reality. The main character, a female, experiences many visions that make the audience wonder what is real and what are her unconscious dreams. She debates thoughts of suicide as she envisions herself walking up her driveway. A knife constantly reappears and the audience can not help but wonder if she plans to kill herself. This film is very artistic in its conflicts between dreams and reality and forces the audience to accept the possibilities of both.

All three of these films deal with art and culture in society. They are all great examples of avant-garde films because they are artistic, unique, and force the audience to think about society as a whole. In An Andalusian Dog, Freud’s concepts of sex in human nature are addressed through the woman and men in the film. Meshes of the Afternoon is extremely artistic in its snapshots of reality and dreams. Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story addresses human nature to want to appeal to everyone. The main character suffers from anorexia nervosa and ultimately dies as a result of her desire to look good for others.

Many critics debate whether or not Meshes in the Afternoon is about suicide or murder. However, the film is about a woman’s suicide. She sees herself walking up the driveway as she holds a knife. She has a sinister look on her face as she is holding the knife and watching herself. The movie is about the internal debates of suicide. It is a mix of her dreams as well as reality and portrays her thoughts of suicide. The man does not appear until the very end and as she hits him he disappears as if he was never there. The woman is repressing her thoughts of suicide by imagining a man kill her, however it is actually her who is killing herself. 

Zero Dark Thirty

      Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty is a fantastic film that demonstrates various themes and motifs for the audience to consider. One of the most important themes is the idea of feminism. Bigelow is a female who has been known to make very good films in an industry dominated by males. She also chooses a female for her main character, Maya. Maya is a new recruit in the CIA and is living in a pond of powerful, established males. Many look down on her because she is new and is a female, however her aggressive personality quickly establishes her as a woman not to be messed with. She stands up to her superiors and shows the necessary determination to capture Bin Laden. She follows her leads despite what her peers think and becomes the strong advocate the politicians need to be convinced Osama is in the hideout. 

       Zero Dark Thirty is the perfect example of auteur film for various reasons. Bigelow uses the idea of genre mash-up by combining various different aspects into one, great film. The film is thrilling with the emotional ride of ups and downs that came with the manhunt for Bin Laden. It is also a strong military film with the suspenseful hunt that the SEALs embark on to catch and kill Osama. Bigelow also uses the unique technique of not letting the audience get too attached to one character. The main protagonist is Maya, however little is known of her background and upbringing in the CIA. This technique pays off because it forces the audience to focus more on the manhunt and actions of the CIA operatives rather than the operatives themselves.

       There have been many ongoing debates on the scenes where operatives torture associates of Al Qaeda. Many believe the torture is unnecessary and cruel, while others see it as realistic and productive. The torture is definitely realistic and objective. Many members and associates of Al Qaeda want to wipe Americans from the earth and would not hesitate to cause them the same, if not worse, harm. The CIA is determined to find Bin Laden and their harsh actions showed this in a great way. The CIA “Blacksites” did exist and were areas were prisoners were interrogated for information. I think Bigelow represented the truth in an accurate way, which is what many people wanted out of the film. 

Ideology in Far From Heaven

The film Far From Heaven involves many different important ideologies in human nature. These ideologies are subtle in day to day life, however when depicted in a film, they force the audience to think about society as a whole. For example, the idea of white supremacy is shown in this film. Cathy knows it is “wrong” in society’s eyes to fall for an African-American man. She is living the “perfect” life with a wealthy, white man and society would forbid her to change that. The idea of heterosexual supremacy is also shown in Far From Heaven. Frank feels like less of a man because he is homosexual and can not perform sexually with his wife. He feels ashamed in society to be homosexual because it is not the “norm.”

Far From Heaven touches on various film ideologies that deal with class, race, sexual orientation, and wealth. Society forms ideas and judgments of these based on media and social norms. Society judges harshly when these norms are crossed such as Frank’s homosexuality or Cathy’s love for an African-American man. Frank feels that he is different and wrong for his sexual orientation because he thinks it makes him less of a man. Cathy feels wrong for falling for an African-American man because, during the 1950s, this was seen as very bad. This film shatters important barriers and forces people to think about their judgments of others in society.

During the 1950s, race and social class were directly related. For example, Frank and Cathy are wealthy whites who seem to have everything a married couple could ever want. On the other hand, Raymond is looked down upon in society because he is African-American. The 1950s reflected a time of great social oppression of African-Americans. Cathy knows falling for an African-American man would cause anger in society. Both Frank and Cathy can not help their feelings for another and both know that their feelings will be frowned upon by others in society.