Friday, 18 March 2011


The term Intertextuality is when films use/borrow ideas or aspects from famous scene’s in well known movies. However, this does not necessarily mean that the film using intertextuality is exactly the same as the original film, it just makes a film more interesting as viewers would be watching a scene they are familiar with combined with new or adapted ideas.

‘Psycho’ is a 1960 psychological thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It is this film that consists of the famous shower scene which many other films have ‘borrowed’. The shower scene is famous for its ‘man verses woman’ attack which takes place when the leading character (Marion) is taking a shower at a motel. Unbeknown to her, the motel manger is plotting to kill her. The following films intertextualises this famous scene:

What Lies Beneath uses intertextuality in the scene where Norman is carrying his still, drugged wife (Claire) up the flight of stairs to the bathroom to drown her. He places her in the bathtub with the tap running. As seen in ‘Psycho’, the scene is set in a bathroom where the man plays the dominant character trying to kill a female (‘man verses woman’) within the tub. However, there are differences in this scene compared to the original as new aspects are used.

Fatal Attraction uses intertextuality in the scene where a male character (Dan) chases after a female (Alex) with a knife in his hands in an attempt to kill her. A short part of the attack is set in the bathroom. The dominant male attacker with the knife is clearly an aspect taken from ‘Psycho’, however unlike the other scene’s, the female character defends herself by attempting to stab her attacker. It is clear that the ‘man verses woman’ concept is used.

The Stepfather uses intertextuality in the scene where David the killer chases after his victim Susan. She runs into the bathroom to get away but David catches up with her. In defence she stabs a piece of broken glass into his neck which causes him to collapse so he grabs the shower curtain; this causes them to unhinge one by one. The scene ends with David looking lifeless in the tub. The ‘man verses woman’ concept is used yet again in this scene but the female character plays the dominant character. The aspect borrowed from ‘Psycho’ was when the camera focuses on the shower curtains unhinging within the bathroom setting.

Succubus (a student thriller) uses intertextuality in the scene where a female character sneaks up on a male in the shower. Unbeknown to the male in the shower, the girl makes it very clear to the viewers what she is planning to do when she reveals a large knife. Suddenly, she opens the door of to the shower and repeatedly stabs her victim until he is lifeless. Although this scene was set in a changing room, the setting of the shower is an aspect borrowed from ‘Psycho’. Another borrowed aspect was the mysterious killer sneaking up on the oblivious victim to stab him several times with a large knife. The only difference was the role of the male dominant killer was reversed therefore played by a female but still follows the ‘man verses woman’ concept.

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