Psycho: The Murder of Arbogast Isaac Bird and Michael Cornett

Summary of the Scene

In this scene, Detective Arbogast, played by Martin Balsam, goes back to the Bates Motel because he still suspects something is going on, despite already talking to Norman Bates. He enters the house on the hill and is killed by Bates.

There are three important things about this scene:

  1. The camera angle portrays the owl as the dominant object in this scene, with a low camera angle used to make it seem imposing.
  2. The pose of the owl adds to this. With its wings thrown up and shadow behind it, it appears to be swooping in on Arbogast, as if he were its prey.
  3. The owl is shown as watching over the room, which is important later on in this section.

Imagery of House on the Hill

  • Symbolism of a house on a hill.
  • Lighting of the background and house itself make it seem ominous and foreboding, transforming a symbol of refuge into one of apprehension

This scene crucially slows down the action, which heightens the tension of the viewer. It also serves to dramatize this sequence. Arbogast is also filmed in one long sequence, which slows down the scene. The long shot cements Arbogast as a victim in the viewer's eye.

By showing a close up shot of the door slowing opening as Arbogast walks up the stairs, the viewer is given advance warning of the impending sequence. This heightens tension by realizing the viewers thought of something happening to Arbogast.

  • This scene is filmed in a top down perspective to detach the audience from Arbogast and "Mother." It turns the audience into the stuffed birds in previous scenes.
  • By putting Arbogast's actor in a rig, then filming him over a process plate, the cinematographer, John Russell, was able to create one long shot of the fall.

This movie is part of the historical "Psychological Horror Cycle," characterized by the horror coming from something ordinary. This scene takes the audience on an emotional ride as Arbogast discovers what really happens at Bate's Motel. By introducing Arbogast as a competent detective, Hitchcock reassures the viewer; then unsettles the viewer by killing him.

In conclusion, this scene serves to show how Hitchcock is able to easily manipulate the viewer's emotions in his film. Psycho.

Works Cited

Treppenw1tz. "The Making of 'Psycho' (1997)." YouTube. YouTube, 02 Sept. 2016. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.

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