Welcome to the Colossus Movie Guide for Psycho. This guide contains everything you need to understand the movie. You’ll find a quick explanation of Psycho, as well as our library of material covering key aspects of the movie. We encourage comments to help us put together the best possible guide. Thank you!Watch Psycho on:
The Quick Explanation
Psycho exists on two levels. On the surface level, we have a tale of a psychotic killer. Norman Bates is a seemingly regular man who lives with his mother. But before long, we discover that Norman is hiding a terrible secret about his mother—that she is dead, and that he dresses up as her and speaks as her. Norman clearly had an unhealthy relationship with his mother, and his need to please her has carried beyond her living body. He has held onto a sick attachment that has clouded his vision of reality. And because of it, his corrupted mind has no place in the society we’ve constructed.
On a deeper level, Psycho is all about the guilt we feel. We feel guilty for sins we have committed, and we’re paranoid that the world knows about our transgressions. The feeling that we’re being watched, that people see the worst in us, that deep down we are not fit for the rules of this society pervades the mind of someone like Marion. She tries to amend her wrongdoing, but is punished by Norman before she can return the $40,000 she stole.
The thing is: Norman didn’t know about the money. So what is she punished for? Did a higher power make her pay? Or was she simply a good person who went a little mad and got caught up doing a bad thing; who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Psycho then becomes a defamiliarization of that feeling of being watched, that feeling that we’ve done something unforgivable and there’s no way to fix it. It can make us feel…well, psychotic. The motif of voyeurism permeates the film, mirroring Marion and Norman’s dramatic struggles with our own regular lives.
- Anthony Perkins – Norman Bates
- Vera Miles – Lila Crane
- Janet Leigh – Marion Crane
- John Gavin – Sam Loomis
- Martin Balsam – Private Investigator Arbogast
- John McIntire – Deputy Sheriff Al Chambers
- Simon Oakland – Dr. Richmond
- Frank Albertson – Tom Cassidy
- Pat Hitchcock – Caroline
- Vaughn Taylor – George Lowery
- Lurene Tuttle – Mrs. Chambers
- John Anderson – California Charlie
- Mort Mills – highway patrol officer
- Joseph Stefano – writer
- Alfred Hitchcock – director
What does the title Psycho mean? What does it tell us about the movie’s intentions and storyline? Let’s figure it out.
Themes and Meaning
Discover themes that help us define Psycho’s commentary, message, and meaning.
If the ending of Psycho confused you, this explanation will help you understand everything you need to know.
Explore important motifs that indicate Psycho’s most crucial moments of symbolism.
A visual guide to Psycho.
Questions and Answers
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