Watch Steven Soderbergh’s Creative Mashup of Hitchcock and Gus Van Sant’s Psycho Films

Last year, I had a chance to inter­view Steven Soder­bergh for Side Effect, his final the­atri­cal fea­ture before his sup­posed retire­ment. Dur­ing our dis­cus­sion, he mused on the future of cin­e­ma.

There’s a new gram­mar of cin­e­ma out there. I’m con­vinced that there’s anoth­er sort of iter­a­tion to be had, and I don’t know what it is … I feel like we’re not tak­ing advan­tage of how sophis­ti­cat­ed we’ve got­ten at read­ing the images. It’s not about the num­ber of images or how fast those images come. It’s about load­ing each one with so many pre­ex­ist­ing asso­ci­a­tions that the audi­ence is doing a lot of work. No one has real­ly chal­lenged them before to mine all of these asso­ci­a­tions they have from see­ing the images their whole lives.

When he was say­ing this, I con­fess that I had a hard time imag­in­ing what he was describ­ing. But last week, Soder­bergh uploaded a video to his web­site that might be what he had in mind – a mashup of Alfred Hitchcock’s mas­ter­piece Psy­cho (1960) and Gus Van Sant’s shot-by-shot remake (1998). (You can watch a frag­ment above and the long, com­plete mashup here.)

For much of the piece, Soder­bergh alter­nates between a scene from the orig­i­nal and one from the remake – Anne Heche, who plays Mar­i­on Crane in Van Sant’s ver­sion leaves her apart­ment for work and in the next scene, Janet Leigh shows up at the office. At oth­er moments, he cuts back and forth with­in the scene; at one point the Mar­i­on from the remake is at a traf­fic light and sees her boss from the orig­i­nal movie. And dur­ing a few key points in the film — like the famed show­er scene, which you can see above — Soder­bergh does some­thing dif­fer­ent. That sequence opens with Heche dis­rob­ing and lath­er­ing up. But when the killer starts stab­bing, Soder­bergh jar­ring­ly over­lays the orig­i­nal movie over top the remake, cre­at­ing a dis­con­cert­ing kalei­do­scop­ic effect.

If there were any movie laden with “many pre­ex­ist­ing asso­ci­a­tions,” it would be Psy­cho. All of Hitchcock’s sim­mer­ing voyeurism, fetishism and gen­er­al psy­cho­sex­u­al weird­ness come to a boil in this movie. Ever since it came out, film­mak­ers from Dou­glas Gor­don to Bri­an De Pal­ma have been try­ing to unpack its pow­er.

When Van Sant unveiled his movie in 1998, audi­ences and crit­ics alike were baf­fled. “Why both­er,” seemed the gen­er­al con­sen­sus. Indeed, Van Sant seems to have pulled off the envi­able feat of snook­er­ing a Hol­ly­wood stu­dio into fund­ing a big-bud­get con­cep­tu­al art film.

By inter­cut­ting the orig­i­nal with the copy, Soder­bergh forces the audi­ence to reap­praise both by cast­ing the great­ness of Hitchcock’s movie and the odd­ness of Van Sant’s effort in a new light. You can watch the entire mashup here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Who Direct­ed the Psy­cho Show­er Scene?: Hitchcock’s Film & Saul Bass’ Sto­ry­boards Side by Side

Alfred Hitchcock’s Rules for Watch­ing Psy­cho (1960)

Alfred Hitch­cock Tan­ta­lizes Audi­ences with a Play­ful Trail­er for Psy­cho (1960)

21 Free Hitch­cock Movies Online

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow.

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