A Long Hard Look at 'Psycho'

A Long Hard Look at 'Psycho'

Paperback(2nd ed. 2010)

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A Long Hard Look at 'Psycho' by Henry Miller, Raymond Durgnat

U?pon its release in 1960, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho divided critical opinion, with several leading film critics condemning Hitchcock's apparent encouragement of the audience's identification with the gruesome murder that lies at the heart of the film. Such antipathy did little to harm Psycho's box-office returns, and it would go on to be acknowledged as one of the greatest film thrillers, with scenes and characters that are among the most iconic in all cinema. In his illuminating study of Psycho, Raymond Durgnat provides a minute analysis of its unfolding narrative, enabling us to consider what happens to the viewer as he or she watches the film, and to think afresh about questions of spectatorship, Hollywood narrative codes, psycho-analysis, editing and shot composition.

In his introduction to the new edition, Henry K. Miller presents A Long Hard Look at 'Psycho' as the culmination of Durgnat's decades-long campaign to correct what he called film studies' 'Grand Error'. In the course of expounding Durgnat's root-and-branch challenge to our inherited shibboleths about Hollywood cinema in general and Hitchcock in particular, Miller also describes the eclectic intellectual tradition to which Durgnat claimed allegiance. This band of amis inconnus, among them William Empson, Edgar Morin and Manny Farber, had at its head Durgnat's mentor Thorold Dickinson. The book's story begins in the early 1960s, when Dickinson made the long hard look the basis of his pioneering film course at the Slade School of Fine Art, and Psycho became one of its first objects.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781844573585
Publisher: BFI Publishing
Publication date: 12/07/2010
Series: BFI Silver Series
Edition description: 2nd ed. 2010
Pages: 290
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

RAYMOND DURGNAT (1932–2002) was the author of many groundbreaking books about the cinema, among them Films and Feelings (1967), A Mirror for England (1970), Sexual Alienation in the Cinema (1972), The Strange Case of Alfred Hitchcock and Jean Renoir (both 1974), and a study of WR: Mysteries of the Organism (1999) in the BFI Film Classics series.

HENRY K. MILLER is a film critic and historian who has contributed to numerous publications including Film Comment, Cinema Scope, Vertigo and Sight & Sound.

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A Long Hard Look at 'Psycho' 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Watkins_FreelanceReviewer More than 1 year ago
The master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock's, 'Psycho,' continues to captivate, and inspire film critics, filmmakers, writers, and all who has the need to dissect his work in order to understand his genius. A Long Hard Look at 'Psycho' is an extensive study of the classic film and our reactions to the ingenious shots, sound, and imagery - an assessment into the mind of the master of suspense. Durgnat analysis every aspect of each scene filmed, and continues too - for lack of a better word, dismember many scenes. Let us look at the man known as one of the most well respected critics of our time. Durgnat was an experienced writer, a fanatic film history scholar, and a master of critiques with a distinctive style to say the least. In the late 1970s, he taught film in California along side, Manny Farber, Jean-Pierre Gorin and Jonathan Rosenbaum. He often lectured on cinema at several academic institutions towards the end of his life in 2002. He was the author of several groundbreaking books such as, Films and Feelings (1967), A Mirror For England (1970), Sexual Alienation in the Cinema (1971), The Strange Case of Alfred Hitchcock and Jean Renoir (both 1974), and a study of WR: Mysteries of the Organism in the BFI film classics series (1999). On page 176 'Making Conversation,' Durgnat describes the feelings of the first-time viewer towards Norman and a small portion of it reads as follows, "As deceitful in this conversation as he is, it's in a vulnerable way, as a victim of Arbogast's aggression, so he benefits from the 'Marnie effect' (audience sympathy for a hard pressed criminal in difficulty). He's very sensitive, in a way quite fresh among villains, and it elicits what Hollywood called 'audience recognition' - the audience recognizing, on screen, its own, intimate experience - in this case, of exasperating conversations. Norman's situation may be 'melodramatic' (extreme), but his 'surface sensitivity' finds echoes aplenty in us." In all I found Raymond Durgnat's categorization of (Alfred Hitchcock's), 'Psycho' annoying, stimulating, and at certain points in the book nothing short of - mind blowing! I did find it to be a scholastic read and one I will not soon forget. I am proud to add it to my book collection and I know that you will be too. Bookpleasures Review, by Barbara Watkins