78 camera set-ups and 52 edits: the meticulous technicalities behind one of the most infamous scenes in movie history. Alfred Hitchcock has been, and always will be, one of Hollywood’s finest, yet it is the masterful artistry of the Psycho shower sequence that gifts him a somewhat superior status. Artfully shot in black and white, Alexandre O Philipe’s documentary 78/52 serves as a homage to this cinematic masterpiece, which continues to captivate and enthral its audience.
With an eclectic cast of industry professionals ranging from editor auteur Walter Murch to Elijah Wood, Philipe demonstrates that this scene not only gets people talking but it has also inspired and stirred a generation of filmmakers and fanatics. Everyone brings something different to the table, be it Hershey’s chocolate syrup or philosophical musings on the all-seeing eye/wash head, which not only gives the film an element of depth, but also shows the extent of our urge to fully understand what is occurring behind the shower curtain.
The in-depth nature of the overall narrative may appear quite daunting, yet this is not a documentary that seeks to alienate its audience. The span of entertaining, enlightening and sometimes downright bizarre anecdotes use humour, intensity and wit to explore elements of the scene in a way that not only inform, but amuse too. However, there are certain components of the narrative that do not add anything of value, such as corny remake scenes and purposeless reaction shots.
78/52 is a delightful attempt at unmasking the enigmatic genius of the chef d’œuvre of cinema. We may never fully understand the mastery of Hitchcock’s intellect, yet Philipe’s documentary is brilliantly compelling, revealing undisclosed features of the movie unknown to most. A film for Hitchcock enthusiasts and newbies alike.
78/52 is released nationwide on 3rd November 2017.
Watch the trailer for 78/52 here: