Professor Nefeli Misuraca Analyzes Hitchcock's Psycho

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Dr. Nefeli Misuraca, Lecturer in English at JCU, analyzed Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho within the conference cycle Lettura Verticale – the Other Side of Writing, at the Libreria Teatro Tlon on February 10, 2018.

Prof. Nefeli Misuraca

Prof. Nefeli Misuraca

Nefeli Misuraca specializes in literature and art. After her undergraduate degree at the University of Rome “La Sapienza,” she completed a Ph.D. in Literature and Art at Yale University. She has taught at Yale, La Sapienza, and Frederick University in Cyprus. She has made short films and edited feature films that have been screened at several international film festivals. She has edited and translated books for many Italian publishing houses. She writes about television and culture on her blog for the national newspaper il manifesto.

In her lecture, Prof. Misuraca showcased all the tricks and artistry of Alfred Hitchcock, creator of a whole cinema genre and major influencer for all the other films to be shot after him.

Abstract

“In cinema, we don’t have pages to fill; we have a rectangular screen in a movie house.” – Alfred Hitchcock

The shower scene in "Psycho"

The shower scene in “Psycho”

The proverbial care Hitchcock put in making his movies contributed to the urban legend that anyone could shoot a film – just like he did – following his screenplays. Although he never co-signed scripts for films, he intervened so strongly in the process of writing that the final result differed sometimes macroscopically from the initial treatment. He also made vast and fastidiously precise use of the storyboard, a series of cartoons illustrating the shots he wanted to take.

During the filming of Psycho, on the other hand, while he was away with the flu, his crew shot the sequence where detective Arbogast is attacked and killed, following closely the storyboard composed by Saul Bass under Hitchcock’s supervision. Returned to the set, the famous director saw the shootings and observed: “You’ve all done a great job. Unfortunately, you portrayed the scene as if Arbogast were a killer and not a victim.”