We all know that Psycho was a classic, historic black and white movie by Alfred Hitchcock. It was a movie about light and shadow, about what seems real and what is actually true. A lot of what made the movie so gripping was that black and white visual, the fine-controlled soundtrack, the "realism" of the characters. Marion Crane seemed like the girl next door. Anthony Perkins seemed incredibly dead-on with his performance of Norman Bates, and much has been made about how his own life was hauntingly similar to the character's.
That all being said, I know a ton of people who never saw that original film. It could be because it was in black and white. It could just be that it was released many years ago. Whatever the reasons, it's unlikely they would go back and watch it "just because". I really think that, in a way, Gus Van Sant did a service by making a new version. It's like having a new version of Robin Hood, or a new version of The Three Musketeers. It brings the story to a new generation, and gives them that push to go out and watch the previous versions.
I agree that some charms of the black and white are lost - some of the moodiness, the edginess. I accept that as a problem of dealing with modern audiences. For example I *love* Casablanca, with its interplay of light and shadow. Still, I also accept that a modern day drama/romance even if on the exact same topic would be done with color. Some scenes would suffer - but others would benefit.
I do wish that the characters were more able to be connected with. It's not necessary for Norman to "be Anthony Perkins" - but he does need to be believable in the context of his character's life and situation. I didn't find that to really be the case here. The same is true for Marion. She was someone I could believe in and root for in the original movie. In this remake, she's far more superficial.
I did really enjoy many of the supporting characters. Viggo fans will get a fully naked Viggo for the "sex scene" - which is a shame in the way, because again it draws away from the characters actual personalities and goes for the smut angle. Maybe that's just another casualty of making a film in modern times.
One thing I *did* appreciate was the final wrap up scene. It always REALLY bugged me that they were so obsessed with exposition-man speaking that they completely forgot about the feelings of the sister. In the current version they handle that much better. On the other hand, if they're going to make tweaks like that, why didn't they tweak the reason Marion was stealing the money? It's because Viggo won't marry her until he can "support her"? Surely that's a pretty silly excuse in modern times. Many of my female friends make more than their husbands, it's not odd or scary. Certainly it's nothing to go stealing a ton of cash to "fix" ...
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