It would be difficult to overstate the immense influence Psycho has had on movies and moviegoing since its release in 1960. On one hand, director Alfred Hitchcock was one of the first auteurs, gaining prominence as a visionary filmmaker before the concept was even conceived. The idea that one person could have such influence on the artistry of a motion picture inspired people around the world, most notably a bunch of folks in France who thought it was high time for a New Wave of moviemaking.
Psycho raised the bar for what movies could do, and how they would be seen. To the latter point, its promotion, at the insistence of Hitchcock himself, urged viewers to actually watch the beginning of the movie. The common practice of the time was for people to arrive at movie events fashionably late, or go to the movies at any given time of day and just walk into a screening regardless of what point of the film was actually being shown when they arrived. It’s bizarre to think about today.
Screenings of Psycho wouldn’t let in people who arrived late, and once they watched, they saw why: the dude went and killed off his star in the first act of the movie in the most shocking and upsetting way imaginable at the time. The film is bold and aesthetically rich, providing a reason to watch it more than once; it’s actually probably even better once the shock has worn off.
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