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Active Questions: Psycho (1960) Review

Updated: Sep 23, 2018

This week I chose Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) to illustrate the use of active questions within a screenplay and it didn’t disappoint! Hitchcock creates a narrative embedded with active questions, which adds to Psycho’s high-octane pace. The first conundrum is, will Marion get away with the stolen £40,000 without getting caught? Her anxiety of being found out along with her determination to make a quick getaway is emphasised with the close-up shots and a sharp memorable sound track. You get a sense that the question of whether she will escape, is not only on the forefront of the audience’s mind but Marion’s too. Applying the use of an active question to the viewer and the characters themselves is a powerful tool in creating suspense. Throughout Psycho I identified seven active questions which kept me on full alert. The final of which was what motivated Norman to kill? This was clearly resolved in the last scene whereby his psychiatrist, after his capture, explains his assessment of Norman’s warped condition. The questions surrounding Norman’s motivation are neatly tied up, leaving no room for our own interpretations or assumptions.


(Photography: Paramount Pictures/ Universal Pictures)


References:

Psycho, 1960 (film), directed by Alfred HITCHOCK. USA: Universal Pictures


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