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November 25, 2012

Since ‘Psycho,’ there’s been a shower of violence in movies

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

“We are (taken) forward and downward into the darkness of ourselves,” wrote Wood. “‘Psycho’ begins with the normal and draws us steadily deeper and deeper into the abnormal.”

In his book “The Moment of ‘Psycho’: How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder,” the critic David Thomson argues that the influence of “Psycho” is everywhere in movies, including “Bonnie and Clyde,” “Jaws,” “Taxi Driver,” many of the films of Stanley Kubrick and even the James Bond movies. “Psycho,” Thomson writes, let “the subversive secret out,” after which “censorship crumpled like an old lady’s parasol.”

“It’s one of the most influential films ever made,” Thomson said. “It’s the beginnings of a flood of violence. Violence becomes more acceptable in film. It’s a whole new attitude to the criminal personality. It becomes more interesting in a way that had never really operated before. It celebrates the director. (Hitchcock) was taken with a new seriousness after that, and in turn, directors were.”

In the famous interviews with French director Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock said he was most interested in “all the technical ingredients that made the audience scream” and hoped that “Psycho” would be “a film that belongs to filmmakers.” That’s certainly been true, as “Psycho” has inspired perhaps the most obsessive ode in Hollywood history, the near frame-by-frame 1998 remake by Gus Van Sant.

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