The above image is of audience reactions during Psycho's iconic shower scene back in 1960. While a couple of audience members look relatively unfazed, it's clear to see the discomfort and horror among others. Never had a film shown violence in such a stark and realistic manner before and director Alfred Hitchcock's decision to do so has shaped modern cinema drastically.
Last night I finally watched Drive. It's been sitting on my shelf for a number of months and my recent discovery of the fantastic soundtrack compelled me to finally dust off the box and give it a watch.
While I enjoyed the film, I was struck by the graphic violence it portrayed. One minute Ryan Gosling was stamping a man's head to a bloody pulp while the next Albert Brooks was brutally stabbing another man in the throat with a kitchen knife. It doesn't make pleasant reading never mind watching.
Drive is quite a drastic example of violence within film and one that I don't doubt drew similar individual reactions 3 years ago to those that Psycho did 50 years ago. But what I find interesting is that despite Drive's radically gorier content, such violence has seemingly become acceptable. There was no public outcry, no boycotts, nothing reminiscent of the fiasco caused by Hitchcock's masterpiece and while I'm not condoning any such reaction, I think it's interesting to note.
And Drive is not alone. Bloody violence has become more and more commonplace in modern cinema over the past few years and continues to grow increasingly graphic and realistic. I am not against its use (two of my favourite films are Fargo and Django Unchained which are both littered with instances of violence), I just wonder how the cinema-goer of the 1960's would react to the films we watch today.
And perhaps more interestingly, how the cinema-goer of the 2010's will react to the films we watch tomorrow.
Thanks for reading,