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Psycho

Norman Bates

Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh in the original Pyscho
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The information given about Norman's past varies between the films. Of course, it could be that these are simple mistakes in the script, but it also outlines how little it matters whether he was twelve or sixteen when he killed his mother.

Norman, to me, has always been about an eternal crisis of identity between the teenage Norman, Mother and the adult Norman who looks after Mother. He, and the films, are not about how he got to be this way, although considerable time is devoted to it, especially in Psycho IV: The Beginning (1990).

You might think, from a cursory look at outlines of the four films, that Norman Bates doesn't change very much. He kills people. He kills people. He kills people. He tells people about killing people. But that's forgetting the identity crisis at the heart of the movies: two distinct identities - Norman and Mother - are continually battling over Norman's sanity.

Psycho: Norman changes from being half Norman and half Mother to being totally Mother.

Psycho II: Norman changes from being totally Norman to half Norman and half Mother

Psycho III: Half Norman and half Mother to... well, thanks to the ambiguous ending, I don't really know.

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Psycho IV: Totally Norman.

Bates/Perkins is not the movie, but he makes the movie. Without Hitchcock or the work of the other actors and crew, Psycho would not have been the acclaimed movie it is. It would have been flawed. But a diamond nonetheless. This is why, despite the absence of anyone but Perkins as the continuance from the original movie, I still enjoy the Psycho sequels more than most other films.

Norman Bates is a nice guy, except he kills people. That seems to be the general consensus of the first three films. And perhaps it explains why I've watched Psycho IV: The Beginning more than I've watched any of the others.

In this movie, Norman is a different person than he has been in the other films - he's married to his psychologist, lives in a house that isn't anywhere near an old motel and is, to all intents and purposes, sane. Yeah, right, you think. He's going to snap and kill someone any minute. But he doesn't. Because he's finally won.

"I'm free..."

Be seeing you, Norman.

- Lonely Walker

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