Hitchcock’s classic turns 50
June 17, 2010
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Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho turned 50 years old yesterday. To celebrate the anniversary, many news publications took a look back. In a write up for Time magazine, Nate Jones wrote up an article titled Five Ways Psycho Changed Cinema.
Some of the ways listed are pretty huge. Killing off the main character in his film was a move nobody saw coming. It’s a move lots of films have employed since then. Look no further than (SPOILER ALERT!) this year’s Academy Award winner for best picture, The Hurt Locker. Obviously the gimmick still works, because I was pretty surprised when Guy Ritchie bit the dust not more than 10 minutes into that film.
The empathy with a murderer thing is also pretty common these days. Current hit TV series Dexter is based entirely around the audience rooting for a serial killer.
I don’t really have a problem with either of these plot devices becoming trends. They worked back then, and once in a while they’re still good today.
The really obnoxious entry on this list is the one about quick editing. Back then it was this great and rather novel technique, and, used by someone as skilled as Hitchcock, it worked perfectly. Today though, quick cutting is often used by inept directors who don’t know how to film scenes (especially action scenes) properly, and thus just set up cameras to cover every angle, so they can assemble something resembling a movie in post-production. Yes Michael Bay, I’m talking about you.
The world of cinema owes a lot to Hitchcock. That much is obvious. But this obnoxious trend of quick editing isn’t something I’d want to be given credit for, if I were him.