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Nuetzel, E.J. (2001). Editor's Introduction: Hitchcock's Eye. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 3(3):303-305.

(2001). Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 3(3):303-305

OriginalPaper: Film and Theater Review and Commentary

Editor's Introduction: Hitchcock's Eye

Eric J. Nuetzel, M.D.

The English director Alfred Hitchcock is widely known as a master of the thriller and suspense genre in film. His work takes on wider significance due to his importance to film theorists. Hitchcock's work illustrates the fact that film is a medium that relies on the director's craft, and his work is a prime example of the ability of film to convey psychosexual themes through the complex language of cinematic codes. Viewers rarely consider such issues; most of us view films for entertainment. Yet a good film can do more than excite and delight the senses; a good film can move us emotionally as it provokes, challenges, and stimulates thought. How and why this happens with certain films are the concerns of film theory.

One of the most memorable moments of my own early adolescence was viewing Hitchcock's film Psycho (1960). I can vividly recall, as a young pup of 12 or so, watching the voluptuous Janet Leigh preparing to shower through the knothole in Anthony Perkins’ Bates Motel office. The titillation soon turned to horror as Janet Leigh's character is viscously stabbed to death in the shower, punctuated by the quick cuts of the film's frenzied narrative and its slicing musical score. The libidinal pleasure of watching a beautiful woman undress and shower juxtaposed with surprise and horror at her violent demise left an indelible impression. I felt complicit; the violation inherent in my voyeurism turned suddenly into sadistic, lethal penetration. Hitchcock undercut my pleasure of looking (scopophilia) by upping the ante; he forced me to ask what it was that I really wanted to see, to ask what darker impulses might lurk within my scopophilia? This was heady stuff for a pubescent boy, so naturally, I became a lifelong fan.

Later I discovered that the influential French critics of the “New Wave” generation regarded Hitchcock with reverence.

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