Director Alexandre O. Philippe is a lover and dissector of film, whether it is The People vs George Lucas or Memory: The Origins of Alien, he loves to capture and understand moments that shifted cinema on its axis. Outside of Citizen Kane, which among other things introduced ceilings to sets, Psycho is possibly one of the most pivotal moments in film, it recast how to think about editing, pacing, and storytelling not to mention how we even go to the movies.
However, despite the title (which alludes to the 78 camera angles and 52 edits of the infamous shower scene) this documentary focuses mostly on the business and cultural impact of Hitchcock’s most famous film. The discussion doesf continually circle back to the shower scene that shocked the world of movie-goers (and which was equally as shocking to movie-makers who were suddenly shown action in a way they’d never conceived) but it is less about the technical aspects and more about the emotional. But the fact is, Pyscho changed everything that followed.
A lot of the discussion is overly academic and attempts to ascribe reason and import to choices, much in the way that English professors deconstruct stories. Some of it is credible, other aspects seem more like a critic trying to sound intelligent or important. However, there is no doubt that Hitch was careful in his choices and his control of the screen experience was exacting. And, by the end, you’ll have a much better understanding of how.
You may have enjoyed Psycho for its evil, unexpected, and silly fun, but there is a lot more to it than that. If you ever wondered why movies have start times, or where that screeching knife sound came from, or who was really in that shower, take 90 minutes and get a wealth of information and some insights about the origins of the pop culture that surrounds us now.