SAO PAULO – The ominous house of Norman Bates, a room hung with dozens of knives and a breathless voice on the other end of the phone – these and many other elements of suspense employed by moviemaker Alfred Hitchcock are revealed in an unprecedented show opening Friday in Sao Paulo.
“Enter at your own risk,” reads a poster of this intriguing expo open to the public at the Sound and Image Museum (MIS) in Sao Paulo until next Oct. 21.
Once inside, visitors are engulfed in an immense two-story film set where they discover, behind every door, the astonishing twists and turns of the most iconic movies of the legendary British director, screenwriter and producer (1899-1980).
“We wanted to display the genius’s thought processes and how he produced his films,” the curator of the exhibition, Andre Sturm, told EFE.
With a vast collection of photos and original manuscripts packed with surprises, the most striking part is when visitors find themselves face to face with a large-scale reproduction of the Victorian house of Norman Bates, the mad killer of “Psycho.”
Within the decaying mansion, the audience feels like one of the characters in the feature film. When walked down, the stairs creak that detective Milton Arbogast tumbled down after being stabbed.
Elsewhere the expo invites visitors to play a game of treasure hunt that leads to the room in Bates Motel where Marion Crane was murdered, then gives them six minutes to find out how to escape.
The stuffed birds on the walls, the dramatic bathroom with the translucent plastic curtain and even the suitcase with Crane’s underwear lying open on the bed – it’s all there.
The curator of the collection said that “Psycho” was shot in black and white because in the famous scene of Crane’s murder, Hitchcock “didn’t wish to frighten the audience with all that red blood, he didn’t want scary graphics.” He would rather instill “great fear” using other elements, such as piercing music.
Also interesting is the gallery exhibiting the sequence of the 1941 movie “Suspicion,” in which Johnnie, played by Cary Grant, takes a glass of milk to his wife Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine).
“Viewers aren’t sure if he means to kill her or not – and what did Hitchcock do to keep them in doubt? He put a small light in the glass of milk” to make them wonder what on earth was going on, Sturm said.
Also on display is the telephone booth in the California city of Bodega Bay attacked by “The Birds” (1963) and the reproduction of a train car, another of the crucial elements of the plot.
The expo additionally explores the depths of controversy surrounding Hitchcock for his alleged obsession with blond actresses and accusations that he was a misogynist.