Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho runs 108 minutes. 78/52, a new documentary about just Psycho’s most famous scene, the murder of Janet Leigh’s Marion Crane in her hotel-room shower, is 91 minutes. So in almost the same time you could watch the entire movie, you can go deep into its signature moment. You can also watch the film’s trailer above, and get a sense of what it’s like. (These images are from the reenactments that make up some of the doc; the rest is largely interviews.)

I saw the film at Sundance and thought it was a satisfying and enlightening film. It carves up the shower scene into many different perspectives; directors talk about Hitchcock, editors discuss its unusual cuts (tee hee), and the woman who doubled Janet Leigh in the scene talks about the difficult process of filming a brutal killing. I’ve seen Psycho many times, gone shot-by-shot through the shower scene, read books on the making of the movie, and still got stuff out of 78/52. It’s worth watching.

Here’s the official synopsis:

The screeching strings, the plunging knife, the slow zoom out from a lifeless eyeball: in 1960, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho changed film history forever with its taboo-shattering shower scene. With 78 camera set-ups and 52 edits over the course of 3 minutes, Psycho redefined screen violence, set the stage for decades of slasher films to come, and introduced a new element of danger to the moviegoing experience. Aided by a roster of filmmakers, critics, and fans—including Guillermo del Toro, Bret Easton Ellis, Jamie Lee Curtis, Eli Roth, and Peter Bogdanovich—director Alexandre O. Philippe pulls back the curtain on the making and influence of this cinematic game changer, breaking it down frame by frame and unpacking Hitchcock’s dense web of allusions and double meanings. The result is an enthralling piece of cinematic detective work that’s nirvana for film buffs.

Nirvana might be a tiny bit strong, but it’s definitely a movie for film lovers, both those who are first discovering the magic of the medium, and those who want to go deeper into one of the all-time classics. 78/52 opens in theaters and on VOD on October 13.


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