Alfred Hitchcock
presents the visual theme of voyeurism from the beginning scene in Psycho. The viewers watch the opening
shot behind the drawn blinds and through the window of Sam and Marion’s motel
room, where they were half naked. In a later scene when Norman is watching
Marion take her clothes off in her room at the Bates Motel, Hitchcock utilizes
perspective shots to let the audience realize Norman’s creepy spying.
Narratively, the topic of voyeurism in the film demonstrates that human sexual
inclinations can turn dark when stifled for too long. Marion’s willing to stop
concealing her actual relationship with Sam drives her to steal money. Norman’s
sexual desire for Marion drives his “mother” to end up murdering her.
By putting the audience in the shoes of the character, Hitchcock warns the
watchers about the consequences of our own real desires. One of the most
recognizable and important scenes of the film occurs relatively early.
Hitchcock is very evident in what he is trying to portray; yet he does it
incredibly through multiple outlets in cinematography. In the scene, Norman
invites Marion into his office to eat dinner with her. Upon viewing this scene
many times and looking specifically for visual elements, it is easy to find
Hitchcock’s brilliance in camera angles and background details. One important detail
to notice is the lighting of the characters. Since there is only one light in
the room, the characters get different shots throughout the scene that portray
how Hitchcock defines them. Norman gets lit up very harshly by the light and actually
only has one half of his face lit up. His represents a theme of the film; the
split personality and duality of Norman because one half is lit up, and the
other is shrouded in darkness. Marion, on the other hand, has a soft light on
her, making her seem to glow almost. The viewer, of course, knows she has done
terrible things, so the light might not make much sense in comparison to Norman.
However, by the end of the scene, Marion decided she did not want to live like
that anymore and wanted to give all the money back. The reason she was lit up
nicely was because there was some positive to her situation, unlike Norman.