Censorship Laws At The Time Of Release

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Sound’s importance is often overlooked in film, it’s either completely ignored or relegated to a minor status. This is surprising as sound can have such an impact on the audience’s emotions and can mold their reactions. The scene I have chosen to analyse is the shower scene from the much discussed 1960 Hitchcock film Psycho.

Censorship laws at the time of release were so strict, Hitchcock had to disturb in other ways without actually revealing too much visually, one main technique was through the use of sound. A particular positive outcome from harsh censorship laws, was the inventive and resourceful approach that writers and directors used to get around them that ultimately lead to the end result being more interesting to watch and much more memorable. If Herrmann’s terror inducing score had not been present, this scene would be much less powerful. Due to the fast paced cuts, if there was no music, the sound differences would be much more noticeable cutting from shot to shot. Viewing the scene without the music, shows how the violins help to cover up unimpressive sound editing.

In this case, music has a vital role of helping the film promote tension throughout. Usually, isolated instruments are used to build up to a key event to increase tension and subconsciously link the idea of vulnerability to the viewers. However in Psycho, composer Bernard Herrmann uses just the sound of the shower leading up to the key moment and then the isolated instruments (violins and cellos)
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