13 May 2018: Excerpt from Cinema Symbolism 3….

Currently writing Cinema Symbolism 3. Here is an excerpt (rough draft) for your consideration.

Bates Motel
was one of this author’s favorite television series. It aired on the A&E Network for five seasons from 2013 to 2017. The show was a modern retelling of Hitchcock’s Psycho with hardcore Easter eggs turning up during its entire run. The eggs served to pay homage to Hitchcock and Psycho (1960). Psycho is replete with esoteric symbolism, so it is no wonder Bates Motel followed in its footsteps.

PsychoPaitingBates

(Left) Susanna and the Elders oil painting by either Frans van Mieris the Elder (1635-1681) or Willem van Mieris (1662-1747), Frans’ youngest son. The painting, based on a story from the Bible, shows three men, like Norman Bates, spying on a bathing woman. In the Biblical tale, the men accuse her of erotic blackmail; in Room 1 of the Bates Motel, Norman qua Mother brutally stabs the naked woman. (Right) During Psycho’s climatic grand finale, Norman assumes Susanna’s same posture as he is being subdued by Sam Loomis.

For instance, the oil painting Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins, 1932-1992) uses to cover the secret peephole in the Bates Motel parlor symbolizes his repressed sexuality. Voyeuristically watching Marion Crane (Janet Leigh, 1927-2004), his passion brings jealous “Mother” to life; she, not Norman, seals her fate. The image is a replica of a painting called Susanna and the Elders. It depicts a story from the Bible–Book of Daniel, Chapter 13–in which three old men spy on an innocent woman as she gets ready to bathe, but when they find themselves overcome with passion, they accuse her of sexual blackmail. Later, when he is caught by Sam Loomis (John Gavin, 1931-2018), Norman’s position mirrors Susanna’s from the painting: his clothes are torn while his head is thrown back, and his right arm lifted high in the air. Stripped of his mother’s dress and his cheap wig, Norman is finally seen “naked” for all he is: mother and son, female and male, guilty and innocent.

Copyright Robert W. Sullivan IV, Esq., 2018.

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