Bonnie And Clyde

December 11, 2010

Based on the true story of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde was a statement film- Director Arthur Penn made sure his movie will be remembered for a long time. And he succeeds. Although the film very loosely bases itself on the true events of the real Bonnie and Clyde, it never seemed like a legitimate biographical account of the lives of the outlaws. Instead, Penn opted for a more comic, yet dark, type of film.

A curiously odd movie, Bonnie and Clyde, as mentioned earlier, is based on the outlaws by the same name. With that said, there’s more dramatized scenes than scenes actually based on purely real events. Add that to the fact that Penn gave the film a more comedic and dark theme, and Bonnie and Clyde is a pure Hollywood original. Albeit, one that the studios didn’t trust to make any money. In fact, they were so sure the movie would flop, (from Wiki) they gave the producer 40% of the gross.

The movie went on to earn $70 million worldwide by 1973. But, why? A movie about giving thieves and murderers a celebrity status, while infusing sex and violence throughout shouldn’t earn that much, should it? Well, Penn knew what audiences want. And they wanted sex and violence. Also, the time period when the movie came out was a time of change in America- movies had more sex symbols than ever, and violence was rampant throughout. It was a perfect movie, at a perfect time.

Of course, that doesn’t take anything away from the movie itself. As mentioned earlier, Bonnie and Clyde was a mix of violence, sex, and dark comedy. It was a strange movie- campy, yet bloody; odd, yet a perfect symbolism of the glorification of crime. The theme of “crome doesn’t pay” is made very apparent throughout. The deaths of the entire gang was bound to happen. But, the way Penn went about the climax was very shocking.

All in all, Bonnie and Clyde was different in many aspects, but dealt with very much the same concept of how the mighty will always usually fall.

Film Analysis- Psycho

December 9, 2010

When a film combines tension and suspense to create a powerful and unpredictable atmosphere between itself and the film viewers, the final results can be a mixed bag. Some viewers may shrug it off proclaiming it to be another one of those movies, while other see it as an annoyance. But, when done correctly, even perfectly, the audience is at awe. Sounds unnerve, music becomes panic-stricken occurrences, and cries of pain end up being eye-shutting moments of terror. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho does so, with grace, but without any restraint. The 1960 horror classic to this day gives its audience fits, making them uncomfortable and a sense of not knowing what will happen next. It’s a testament to Hitchock’s brilliance that even in present times, a film with little gore can cause so much negative emotion.

Released in 1960 to an unaware public, Psycho at received mixed to negative reviews. But, that didn’t stop people from not going to the local theaters and waiting for hours to experience Hitchcock’s masterpiece. And because this period in America was a time of change and a movement away from traditional values, Psycho was a perfect embodiment of the changing views of many Americans.

The scene that perfectly captures the thematic issues Hitchock wanted to portray- the elements of unpredictability and suspense- to his audience is during the death of Detective Milton Arbogast. The scene begins with Arbogast, played by Martin Balsam, walking into the home of Norman Bates. He sees the stair case and looks up. It’s a medium close-up shot, until he decides to walk up. While he is climbing up, the camera changes shot to a close-up of his feet climbing the stairs. As the scene continues, we hear ominous, yet gentle music being played as the background music- a sign to things to come. The camera then goes back up, as if at the top of the stair case, it’s looking and following Arbogast as he slowly walks up the stairs. The music becomes louder, more ominous- but, again, it’s a gentle tune.

Arbogast looks back, and as though it was the perfect moment, the camera is aimed at the floor of the door closest to the top of the stair case. The door slowly opens- we see light, and what seems like the shadow of a figure waiting for the right moment. The music becomes even more ominous. The camera goes back to Aborgast, climbing the stair case once more. The camera then goes up- a ceiling view of the top of the stair case, Arbogast, and the opened door near the staircase. Arbogast finally reaches the top, and within a millisecond, the music changes to the title music- the screeching of violins that creates a bone chilling feel. The figure hastily walks out from the door with a knife in his hands. Arbogast didn’t see it coming- the figure stabs the detective, and the camera does a close-up of his face, bloodied from the cut wound received from the maniacal figure. He begins to fall down- the camera follows, but stays transfixed on the man’s face. We see shock, terror, and everything in between expressed on Arbogast’s face. He finally falls on the floor, the camera falling with him, and the figure ends his deed with multiple stabs to his body. The camera focuses on the knife- we hear cries of anguish.

The audience is petrified. And Hitchcock knows it.

Dark, sinister, and uneasy throughout, Hitchcock makes his audience go to places emotionally they don’t want to go. The atmosphere created from the very beginning creates a menacing setting. The audience knows what will happen- they just don’t know the how, the when, the where, nor the who that does the killing. Although most filmgoers state that the infamous shower scene may have been the best scene in Psycho, the unpredictability of the scene stated above gives goosebumps to those who have already seen the scene multiple times. The camera angles, the ominous music, the screeching of the violins played perfectly at the sight of the mad man- Hitchcock makes the combination of suspense, tension, and terror to perfection.

Psycho

December 1, 2010

Released in 1960 with a budget of $806,000, Psycho gave its viewers one of the greatest stories and twist endings during that time period. First time viewers were shocked, and deservedly so. The movie itself just seems to ooze claustrophobic areas and camera-closeups that would make anyone uncomfortable. And that’s just some of the less violent scenes.

Scenes such as when Marion gets pulled over by a policeman and when she is confronted by the peculiar motel owner, Norman, are very tense. Add the fantastic music and you have scenes filled with tension that otherwise wouldn’t. And this is all because of the masterful directing of Hitchcock. His eye on certain shots really gives the viewers a profound effect that hasn’t ever really been established before Psycho.

The plot is almost as thought-provoking as the shots and cinematography themselves. Part drama, part suspense, and part horror, Psycho quickly establishes itself as a movie unlike any other. Commercials for Psycho led us viewers to believe that Marion’s character would stay alive unti the end. But, instead, Hitchcock pulls a fast one, and gives us one of the more terrifying scenes in film history:

All in all, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho redefined the horror genre. It wasn’t a film filled with gore. It was a film filled with dread and tension in every single shot. Psycho gives the audience everything it has, and sometimes gives too much- there were reports that had many viewers faint during the infamous shower scene. It does what so many other horror movies fail to do- it makes the audience feel as terrified as the protagonist herself. Stunning, controversial, and filled with scenes of violence without the violence, Psycho is a one of a kind horror movie that, to this day, still gives fear to its audience.