How much variety can a composer wrestle out of a string-only ensemble? Bernard Herrmann’s jabbing, keening ‘black and white’ score for Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal shocker contains arguably the most imitated passage of film music in history, and defined the contemporary slasher horror score - Writer and Season curator Sean Wilson
Phoenix secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), on the run after stealing $40,000 from her employer, is overcome by exhaustion during a heavy rainstorm. Traveling on the back roads to avoid the police, she stops for the night at the ramshackle Bates Motel and meets the polite but highly strung proprietor Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins), a young man with a keen interest in taxidermy and a difficult relationship with his mother.
Although Hitchcock initially intended for the infamous ‘shower scene’ to unfold in near silence, composer Bernard Hermann disagreed and, defying the director, recorded the now-iconic screeching strings section and convinced Hitchcock in the process. More than 60 years since the film was made, few other sequences have provided such a tightly intertwined mix of sound and image.
Newly restored in stunning 4K, Psycho is now screening in its original uncut form with 13 seconds of additional footage, previously removed by censors on release.