78/52 (15) Review

Sid Pinsent reviews 78/52, a documentary about the making of Psycho's notorious shower scene

Sidney Pinsent
20th November 2017
The Bates Motel from Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 classic Psycho. Image: YouTube

If you’re a film fanatic, this is for you. 78/52 is the story of Psycho’s famous shower scene, compromising of 78 shots and 52 cuts.

With the help of writers, actors and directors, Alexandre O. Philippe’s documentary puts together a collage of experts to dissect 3 minutes that profoundly changed world cinema.

The film reveals early on that Hitchcock saw Psycho as a joke, perhaps just exercising his power as the biggest director in the world. Cinema was at his mercy and he was brutal in the way he crafted that power to change cinema through violence.

1960 was a crossroad for the American dream; suburban America was booming, but racial tensions and the Cold War was brewing a sense of unease grew in domestic America. The documentary wonderfully reflects the horror of the shower scene as the world around them reveals the horror of the real world.

We see how music and editing are combined harmoniously, to terrorise the audience without ever seeing a knife pierce the skill. Master filmmakers are able to show us things we aren’t seeing; atmosphere and camerawork are used to excel the violence. It’s a pleasure to see experts talking on a topic they love, although their smugness is palpable. Something about Elijah Wood telling me what’s good is a annoying, and I don’t know why they got the director of Captain America to talk about what makes good filmmaking. Apart from these blips the film is crafted with such love and detail you’ll be in its grip from the beginning. Each interview is interwoven seamlessly with the next, the flow throughout is enthralling.

A dense and fascinating documentary, more lean than a sirloin. For film fans, any trip back to the Bates motel is a treat.

Rating: 4/5

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