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Cinema is an integral part of human civilization as well as any other form of art. As one of the most popular forms of art, cinema even is more superior due to new informational technologies. Along with the technical side of cinema, there is also a cultural one which determines some details of the films produced in the particular time. Thus, the development of the main themes, motifs and the ways of visual representation of the plot depend on the worldview of the society where the film appears. In this way, for example, the films of the 60s represent women in a different way those of today because of the changes connected with the feminist movements. The research of the films of a previous epoch may show the American mentality during that period.
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Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most famous filmmakers both in the USA and in the whole world. Hitchcock’s films reflect the popular beliefs of the Americans in the 60s, and in this way, they give much information about those times in general. Through The Psycho, Hitchcock creates the image of women who have to be active and initiative because of the immature men around them.
Today’s feminists have negative attitude towards The Psycho because the female characters here are very different from the understanding of women based on the ideas of gender equality. The article by the famous British journalist Bidisha is an example of such position. Hitchcock’s heroines are evaluated absolutely negatively in the article. Thus, she claims that Norman, the main male character of the film who killed women, “is Hitchcock himself, kidding himself that women are scheming devils and men are just innocent folk, acting up because they got caught in a tricky situation.” (Bidisha) Such interpretation only emotionally evaluates the film. Certainly, Bidisha is right when criticizes Hitchcock for some elements of sexism in his film, but such a position has no rsults except negative evaluation of the film. Besides, there is also another way to explain the film through the analysis of motifs without considering the today’s reality. Such a position is represented by the research of David Greven based on the author’s attempt to interpret the films only through the information in those films without evolving any additional context. Therefore, it is important to overview the plot of The Psycho and try to explain the specifics of its main female characters.
Firstly, the film shows how one woman called Marion tries to steal money she has to deliver. She needs the money for marriage with her boyfriend Sam (the audience knows that since the first scene of the film). For that reason, she avoids a police officer and drives to a motel where the mentally ill mother of the motel’s owner kills her. Marion’s sister and boyfriend try to find her and discover that the killer was Norman, the motel’s owner. He also killed his mother many years ago, and then started to kill all women who sexually attracted him. The women believed that their real killer was his mother. Thus, Norman included two personalities inside himself: his male half, Norman, and his female half, Norma (or mother). Norman with his multiple personalities thought that his mother is guilty for all of his crimes. Bidisha considers that Hitchcock believed in the same thing. Besides, it seems that the possible interpretation is much more difficult.
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There are three women in this “female-centered film” (Greven), who are the main characters. The first one, Marion, commits crime because her boyfriend has not enough money for their marriage when she wants it very much. Thus, the reason why Marion steals the money is to solve the problem of her boyfriend. It is clear that Sam, Marion’s boyfriend, is an infantile character who in fact causes Marion’s both crime and death.
>In the same way, the second woman in the film is also very active in contrast to the male characters. Thus, Lila, Marion’s sister, tries to find her, and helps Sam with that (it is the second evidence of his infantile role in the film). At last, when the private detective (another male character) comes to Norman’s house alone, the murderer of Marion kills him, too. Besides, when Sam visits Norman with Lila, they survive his attack, and Sam disarms Norman who tried to kill both of them. In this case, Lila both finds the murderer and (in fact) disarms him, because Sam was rather as an instrument there. This detail shows the superiority of women over men, especially in the context of the private detective’s failure in the same situation.
The third main female character is Norma who is female despite she is one of Norman’s multiple personalities. It is highly important that Norman believes he does not kill anyone and instead of that he considers that it was his mother (also killed by him). Norman speaks with his mother and believes she is alive. In fact, all of that shows that the connection between Norman and his mother is so deep than his psychics created her personality in order to help Norman continue his life.
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In this way, all central male characters of the film are unable to do anything without the women’s help. At the same time, their childish behavior provokes female characters to be active and take initiative and responsibility. Both male and female characters agree with that, and in this way, both Marion and Norma (as a female part of Norman) commit their crimes. It is evident that the reason for their crimes was not their essential evil (as Hitchcock believed, according to Bidisha), but the infantile men who could not resolve any problems and always needed their help. In some aspect, the film is a criticism of the epoch where the men lost their traditional gender qualities and became dependent and passive.
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