If you are a film buff or a Hitchcock enthusiast, you are going to like the new documentary 78/52. If you are both like I am, you’re going to love this detailed, film school worthy analysis of the famous shower scene in Psycho.
From Saul Bass’s opening credits to the creepy final seconds, Psycho has always been one of my favorite films since it first terrified me when I was about 10!
The title refers to the 78 camera set ups and 52 edits that comprise the 3 minute murder scene at the Bates Motel.
Director Alexandre O. Philippe (The People Vs. George Lucas) assembles a well-respected cast of cinema experts to dissect the bathroom bound murder of Janet Leigh from every conceivable angle.
Directors like Guillermo del Toro, Peter Bogdanovich and Mick Garris (Psycho IV) discuss the directorial choices behind the prep and presentation.
3 time Academy Award winning Editor/Sound designer Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now, The Godfather) breaks down almost every shot of the sequence with an eye toward its ground breaking style and does a superb job informing the viewer how Hitchcock’s choices have influenced major films for the past 50 years.
Jamie Lee Curtis discusses her mother’s most famous role and Janet’s stand in Marli Renfro shares some great on set stories and details that I’ve never heard before.
The film does a great job in setting the cultural tone of the movies and the audience in the early 60’s. We also get some generous clips of other Hitchcock films that nicely position just how different Psycho was coming right after the widescreen, old fashioned adventure and romance of “North by Northwest”.
We meet Anthony Perkins son, hear composer Danny Elfman talk about the influence of Bernard Herrmann’s music that fills that famous shower stall and even get a peek at the failing of Gus Van Sant’s color shot-for-shot remake of the original from some of its creators.
Even author Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho) and actor Elijah Wood contribute with powerful perspective and humor on Hitch’s legacy.
If it seems like there is no way to create an entertaining 90 minute documentary about just 3 minutes of classic filmmaking, let me tell you, its been done here. You’ll never look at that scene in the same way again after you see this incredibly detailed, fascinating and entertaining film.
It gets an A.
Just like Norman, it KILLS.