ENG 2400 Films from Literature, Spring 2020

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  • #59193

    Prof. Masiello
    Participant

    The movie versions of the Psycho story and the main characters are iconic.

    Considering how Norman Bates is described and behaves in Robert Bloch’s novel,
    why do you think Hitchcock (and screenwriter Joseph Stefano) changed him so drastically?

    Was the film’s Norman a better character?

    Which Norman do you prefer?

    Why?

    #59195

    Sara Zheng
    Participant

    I think Hitchcock and Stefano changed Norman’s character to fit the actor that played him. In the novel he was described as an older unattractive male, whereas in the film he is played by a younger male. The film’s Norman was better because his character was created to be more sympathetic for the audience, compared to the novel how he’s more open to resent his mother. Also, actually seeing Norman on screen struggling with his violent “mother” persona gives us more reasons to sympathize with his unstable mentality.

    #59203

    Khomeshwari Sankar
    Participant

    I think the character Norman Bates in Psycho was loosely based on two people. First was the real-life murderer Ed Gein, about whom Bloch later wrote a fictionalized account, “The Shambles of Ed Gein”, in 1962. Norman Bates, a middle-aged bachelor, is dominated by his mother, a mean-tempered, puritanical old woman who forbids him to have a life outside of her.

    #59229

    Prof. Masiello
    Participant

    Yes, Anthony Perkins came off as vulnerable and appealing, certainly not someone who, on the surface, we would expect to act the way he does. He gave a brilliant, unforgettable performance.

    #59230

    Prof. Masiello
    Participant

    Yes, actual 1950s serial killer, Ed Gein, was the inspiration for the book’s character, but that does not address the question of whether the book Norman or the film Norman is the better character.

    #60219

    Tyler Tyson
    Participant

    I think psychically they changed Norman’s character description because a fundamentally handsome male is typically more entertaining for a movie audience. In addition, him being attractive does throw the audience off even more because people dont associate handsome with psychopath who dresses up as his mom and murders people.

    #60241

    Prof. Masiello
    Participant

    Yes, you are correct, but times have changed. Hitchcock was very innovative when he cast Perkins in 1960. It seems, though that in 2020 the good-looking male is often shown as a bad guy right away.

    #60242

    Prof. Masiello
    Participant

    Had we been in class together, I would have asked these questions.

    If this was your first time watching Psycho, were you surprised by the “big reveal” near the end about the identity of the killer?

    At any point in the film did you become suspicious that something was odd about Norman and his mother?

    If so, please describe the scene.

    Whenever you see the film again, for your own enjoyment or personal research, there are lines of dialogue that will sound humorous

    when you hear them again. One is when Norman brings Marion food on a tray after she could not help but hear that he and his mother

    were loudly arguing. He then says: “Mother, my mother, she’s not herself today.”

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 2 weeks ago by Prof. Masiello. Reason: Film titles should be underlined or italicized
    #60245

    Prof. Masiello
    Participant

    Here is one clue you might find amusing, Norman’s walk up the stairs:

    https://cuny907-my.sharepoint.com/:v:/g/personal/frank_masiello55_login_cuny_edu/EYbUg9LiK1ZIt1Adhbe9eA4B4212gNd3f27VmRzBT62SRA?e=QhypBP

    Follow the above link…

    #60253

    Sara Zheng
    Participant

    The identity of the killer in the end was not much of a surprise because we could tell Norman was unstable through the film. During the conversation Norman had with Marion about his mother being unstable and how he feels trap because of her. However, he could not leave his mother even if he had negative feelings toward her, which Marion asks why he can not send his mother away. Norman gets angry and the background music starts getting “darker,” usually hinting something bad was going to happen.

    #60330

    Prof. Masiello
    Participant

    When Norman says to Marion, “Have you ever seen the inside of one of those places? The laughing and the tears. My mother there?

    But she’s harmless. She’s as harmless as one of those stuffed birds,” it seems he may have been institutionalized at one point himself so

    he may be speaking from experience.

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