Psycho – Alfred Hitchcock – 1960

1. Throughout his life Hitchcock had a morbid fascination with birds. He was terrified at the thought that they were always present, watching from above, waiting to swoop down and attack. This preoccupation is obvious in The Birds (1963), but many of his films include hidden references to birds; Psycho is no exception. Try to find as many references–direct and indirect–as you can. What do they do for the film?

2. Hitchcock began his career as a director of silent films, and he retained the ability to make his points visually without depending too much on dialogue. Again in Psycho nearly all the important action occurs without words. Discuss one or two scenes in which valuable information is presented wordlessly, simply by camera movement and selection of visual detail.

3. Think of this film as an example of the genre of Horror films. In what ways is Psycho a typical Horror film? In what ways is it not typical?

4. During his working life, Hitchcock was commonly known as the “Master of Suspense.” Do you find Psycho suspenseful? Why? How does Hitchcock draw you into the story, cause you to identify with the characters and the dangers and terrors that they experience? How does he play with your expectations?