In illustrating how Hitchcock uses cinematic techniques to depict paranoia, look to the scene in Psycho where Marion Crane is driving away from Phoenix with the stolen $40,000. It is one of Hitchcock's most lauded sequences from the film which arguably represents the apex of his mature period, and it...
In illustrating how Hitchcock uses cinematic techniques to depict paranoia, look to the scene in Psycho where Marion Crane is driving away from Phoenix with the stolen $40,000. It is one of Hitchcock's most lauded sequences from the film which arguably represents the apex of his mature period, and it shows how he creates a suspenseful atmosphere through careful use of editing, camera placement, and sound.
Hitchcock shoots Marion in close-up. The close-up is generally used to show more of a character's reaction or emotional state, and this can be uncomfortable for the viewer because sometimes a close-up can seem too intimate, especially in negative situations. Here, Marion, at first smug and confident, is slowly becoming more agitated as she is overcome with fear of discovery and then eventually guilt. These close-ups are intercut with point-of-view shots of the highway, linking the viewer with the paranoid Marion, especially when it begins to rain and the view outside the window is murky. Notice also how the close-ups progressively grow tighter, pushing the viewer closer to Marion's face between cuts to the highway.
The scene also uses voice-over, which is when a disembodied voice plays over the footage. In this case, the voice-over represents Marion's thoughts, fantasies about what her boss might be saying about her back in Phoenix once he discovers the money is missing. Other figures also give testimony against Marion in her head, such as the used car salesman and the cop she encountered earlier. The voice-overs start out straightforward (Marion's boss wondering where she is) but they progressively grow darker (such as Cassidy insisting he'll replace the money with Marion's "fine, soft flesh," a threat both sensual and violent, prefiguring the sexual obsessions and lethal threat of Norman Bates), just as Marion's mental state grows more anxious.
Bernard Hermann's music also helps evoke paranoia. The famous score of Psycho is string-heavy and intense. It is no less so in this sequence—combined with the close-up of Marion's frightened face and the constant voice-over of others judging her, it creates a tense atmosphere, drawing the viewer into Marion's paranoia.
Essentially, Hitchcock draws the viewer into his character's mental state to create a paranoid atmosphere. Rather than just giving us internal monologue, he pushes the camera close to the character and plays the imaginary testimony of others in her mind, illustrating her sense of entrapment (the close-up) and her feelings of guilt and terror. His approach has been quite influential: a young Steven Spielberg used almost all of these techniques in a similar scene in the 1971 movie Duel.