How does Hitchcock present the theme of duality and predator versus prey in psycho? Alfred Hitchcock’s psycho was first screened in 1960, where it instantly became a box- office success, and one of the most influential horror movies of all time, showing explicit violent and sexual scenes which shocked audiences worldwide, and breaking new ground for mainstream Hollywood film.
It transformed Hitchcock into a prestigious film director and the ‘mother’ of horror films. Its themes stuck at many American morals and were even blamed for causing severe murders, creating concerns of connections between screen violence and anti-social behaviour, which is still debated to this day.Alfred Hitchcock uses duality from the very opening seconds of the film, to reflect the whole theme of the film, of a split double personality.
Hitchcock’s idea of the black and white contrast, which was originally thought of to reduce the costs, also added to the duality of the film. This also went well with the chillingly screeching music which had a sharp staccato rhythm and slashing strings which created contrast and also added to the tension, suspense and intrigue in the shower scene, the slashing and screaming of Marion. The credits are also split and formed to merge into one whole ‘person’ portraying the duality of the characters in Psycho.
Hitchcock makes use of camera angles, which is effectively shown when Marion is in the car, running away from her fear. The camera is focused through her eyes and shows her looking away from her own reflection as the mirror, which mirrors her dual personality; another effective technique that Hitchcock uses to present the theme of duality in Marion. Norman Bates’ face is almost half covered most of time by the darkness and camera angles which Hitchcock uses, to portray the split personality in Norman Bates, which is his mother. Only at the closing stages of the story, do the audience realize that Bates has two distinct identities, himself and his mother, and that the two personality are continually fighting over the little sanity that is left in Norman Bates, which Bates reveals when dressing as his mother. The mirrors in the motel also work effectively reflecting Norman Bates’ image to show the dual personality in Norman.The language used in psycho also allows Hitchcock to play with the audiences’ assumption of the split personality e.g.
When Norman says: ‘We all go a little mad sometimes.’ Hitchcock uses the theme of predator versus prey to build upon the audiences fear towards Bates. Bates acts as a predator to Marion and his hobby of taxidermy also reflects upon the idea that he enjoys stuffing organisms which are passive, which reflects the idea that he enjoys being the predator and that the objects he stuffs are his prey.This ironic matter coincides with how he sees his mother, which is later concluded in the film. Marion is seen as the ideal prey as the victim of the serial killer, Bates.
The policeman also acts as a predator to Marion; Hitchcock has his emphasised sinister role by having him wearing non reflected glasses seen from Marion’s point of view, creates tension and builds up an anonymous, but threatening figure of society, as with Mr Cassidy, Marion’s boss whom she is escaping from.