Alfred Hitchcock's Creation of Tension and Suspense in Psycho

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Alfred Hitchcock's Creation of Tension and Suspense in Psycho

'Nasty, skilful and clever'. This is how one critic described Psycho at the time of its release. He/She recognised the film's obvious power over the audience, and its ability to manipulate emotions and responses. 'Psycho' is an excellent example of how tension and suspense can be created, and how they can improve a film tremendously. Hitchcock uses all the classics horror codes (old houses, weather, dark, etc.) together with several tricks of his own, camera shots and angles, and twists the plot structure to create a very effective atmosphere an to produce a classic film. The mise-en-scene, the low/high angles, the clever lighting, the
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These voice-overs are being played as Marion's thoughts. Of course she cannot know what these people are actually saying, and neither can we, but her evident guilt and anxiety is causing her to imagine the conversations. In each of the situations the characters come closer to finding out the truth. This makes the audience become tense, and produces a feeling of suspense, as, due to our experience of crime stories, we know that if the individuals she has left behind find her out, she will be in big trouble. We are waiting to see if they discover the secret, and we are concerned for Marion.

The first pair, the policeman and the car salesperson, are bemused and intrigued by her, their curiosity having been harmlessly aroused by her strange behaviour, so we are not particularly concerned by this, but the car dealer ends by saying ' The only funny thing, she paid me 700 dollars in cash…'

This cliffhanger type ending makes us tense, and as we are not told what happens after this, especially so. After this we have another aural sequence involving Caroline, Marion's colleague, Lowery, Marion's employer, and Cassidy, owner of the money. They too are growing closer to the truth, and Mr. Cassidy is growing more and more passionate. Through the scene, Marion, as though reflecting our growing tension and concern, has been looking more and more tense and worried. Then, on

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