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PSYCHO

Behind The Scenes
Why remake PSYCHO

Why remake PSYCHO?

For almost four decades the very concept of motion picture suspense has been synonymous with the title Psycho. When Alfred Hitchcock originally made Psycho in 1960, it was the most frankly sexual and violent motion picture ever made by Hollywood, frighteningly so. Audiences were stunned by the stark portrait of a maniacal killer, and thousands thought twice about their personal hygiene choices after the relentless experience. Since then, the techniques Hitchcock used to compel viewers to the edges of their seats have been often imitated yet nothing could ever usurp the first-time viewing of Psycho. In fact, the movie was recently named the second most scariest movie ever made in a TV Guide poll and was chosen by the American Film Institute for its list of the 100 most important American movies.

Psycho penetrated deeply, indelibly, under the skin of all who entered the lurid yet undeniably alluring world of the Bates Motel, overseen by its unusual owners Norman Bates and his elderly, domineering mother. This effect was entirely due to the taut, suspenseful screenplay by Joseph Stefano and the masterful filmmaking of Hitchcock, whose voyeuristic camera, staccato cuts and willingness to plunge fully into the darkest recesses of human psychology made the film unlike any cinematic experience that had come before. By all accounts, Psycho was then and remains today a masterpiece. So why would anyone mess with it?

Director Gus Van Sant has stood up to one of the biggest taboos in contemporary filmmaking by recreating the motion picture Psycho. Although it has never been done before, Van Sant was intrigued by the notion of taking an intact, undeniable classic and seeing what would happen if it were made again-with a nearly identical shooting script-but with contemporary filmmaking techniques.

Part tribute to Hitchcock, part new introduction for younger audiences, part bold experiment, the recreated Psycho is not even remotely intended to supplant the 1960 masterwork. Rather it is a fresh look-a sort of inquiry into what happens when someone from a new generation wields the same razor-sharp blade.

Gus Van Sant has had a Psycho fixation for a long time. It all began when he started thinking about the notion of Hollywood remakes. Van Sant noticed that, almost without exception, only those films that had fallen out of popularity, relegated to lonely midnight movies and late-night cable, were ever remade. Big, enduring classics were rarely tackled, except in cases where they were altered beyond recognition.

Van Sant, known for his bold choices in filmmaking, wanted to take on the challenge of truly recreating an incredible, landmark movie, in the same way that different directors repeatedly tackle the material of Shakespeare's Hamlet because it is so rich and resonant. He chose the ultimate American classic: Psycho, a film that had been far ahead of its time in 1960 and still surprises viewers today.

The initial reaction from almost all quarters was astonishment: "Why on earth would you want to do that?" Some thought it outrageous, others thought it sacrilege.

But Van Sant had an answer.

"I felt that, sure, there were film students, cinephiles and people in the business who were familiar with Psycho but that there was also a whole generation of movie-goers who probably hadn't seen it," he says. "I thought this was a way of popularizing a classic, a way I'd never seen before. It was like staging a contemporary production of a classic play while remaining true to the origina

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