I railed, in my mind, against screening Psycho for film studies, thinking that a 50 year old black and white film won’t speak to 17 and 18 year olds but then I remembered just how good it is. Watching it again, its influence seeping out for people to absorb, its brilliance in everything that makes cinema dear and exciting to me made me question my original reluctance.
I remember travelling to London to see a remastered print when I was 18 and I thought hey, if it meant so much to me at 18, maybe it will connect with some 18 year olds now.
There is so much to love in this movie, cinematically and from a story and character point of view. It’s so lean, what you think is preamble suddenly changes from feather to tonne in the drawing of a blade.
When looking at film studies from zero - mise en scene, sound, composition, editing, history, it really is a logical place to start as you can go before it easily, to silent film, montage, expressionism, the studio system and right up to now in terms of horror, screenplay structure, auteur theory and semiotics.
Perkins is incredible too. One of the finest screen performances ever, no debate.
I’m glad I showed it, even though a few of the cooler kids laughed at and chided the end moments, but I guess over the coming weeks we will see if they were paying attention or if I should have shown them Kick Ass or something.
Either way, I loved sitting at the back of a dark room as this masterpiece unfolded and my eyes discovered it anew, even though I’ve seen it umpteen times. I tried to fight it, but I can’t, it’s a masterpiece of cinema and everyone who claims to like movies, want to work in movies or is studying movies, has to see it.