Tuesday, 18 January 2011


It is almost impossible nowadays for any film to be completely original. More often than not, aspects of one film are 'borrowed' to create the storyline of another, this is defined as Intertextuality.
I find intertextuality in film very interesting; it fascinates me how even though two films may be completely different in terms of storyline, time it was made etc. one would have influenced another in one aspect, making them similar in one sense at least. I also like the fact that people who may enjoy an aspect (for example a theme or technique) from a film may have the hope of finding it in another.

One legendary film which has become the source of many film-makers' inspiration is Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. The famous 'shower scene' is most commonly used in thriller/horror movies as the inspiration for murder scenes. Here are some examples of how aspects of Psycho have been used in later films.

What lies beneath.
Most of the film is set in a bathroom; similar to the shower scene in Psycho, in addition to this, most of the camera angles are the same e.g. closeups of the victim's face and menacing shadows on the walls. Parts when the bath/shower is running could also be described as similar to the psycho shower scene.

Succubus (student film)
The film Succubus made by students is almost an exact replica of the shower scene in Psycho. The only change they have made in the plot is the gender change of the murderer and victim; in their film, it is a man who is killed in the shower by a woman. The props, classic poses and camera shots and angles are almost exactly the same; there is one shot in particular of the water pouring out of the shower head which was replicated exactly from the scene in Psycho.

The Stepfather.
One of the killing scenes in the stepfather has also used intertextuality; referencing from the shower scene in Psycho. The stabbing motion/position of the murderer is exactly the same, as well as the knife used for the stabbing. Also, the part where the shower curtain is pulled off in Psycho is replicated exactly; using the same camera angle/shot and similar surroundings (bathroom).

Another reasons for the frequent use of intertextuality in films. Intertextuality doesn't simply come about if the film is a great success making film makers to pull influences from it, but there is usually something very gripping about a certain theme or style in a film that makes a writer want to include it in their own work. The example in terms of these films would be the connotative qualities of water. A bathroom scene involves the one element that is vitally important in thrillers. Vulnerability. Water itself is unstable and lacks solidity. This psychologically implies to the audience the lack of certainty and security within the scene, causing tension and suspense, putting the viewers on edge. Intertexuality is therefore not just because it appeals to many people by copying what was in another film, but also because there is something special about that success that could be used in another film in another way.

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