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Vancouver Sun (30/Nov/1991) - Directors exploit 'safe' home images



Directors exploit 'safe' home images

FROM THE CHILLING shower sequence in Psycho to the sex-in-the-kitchen-sink scene in Fatal Attraction, movies have shown how a person's home can inspire Hollywood memories.

"Clever directors know that the judicious use of violence, confrontation or wit can make a more dynamic lasting impression if the scenario is played out in rooms we consider safe and secure," Doug Eliak, an education officer with the National Film Board, said in an interview.

"And the rooms film-makers like to create the most mischief in are the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen."

In a seminar at a recent interior design exposition, Eliak discussed how film-makers' careful use of the home and related images affect the way people perceive their living spaces.

For instance, said Eliak, the shower sequence in Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 thriller Psycho — with the hapless character played by Janet Leigh slashed to death by a shadowy figure — had such a "pervasive psychological impact" that the sales of shower fixtures plummeted for a short time.

"People were always looking for that unknown creature to come through their bathroom door."

HE ADDED that F.W. Murnau's creepy silent vampire film, Nosferatu, in 1922 contains a bedroom scene that is so menacing that those who have seen it probably still check under their beds for intruders before turning in.

"And sex in the kitchen sink in Fatal Attraction opened our eyes to the advantages of good plumbing," Eliak jokes about the 1987 ovie in which the characters played by Glenn Close and Michael Douglas partake in an immoral and eventually deadly liaison.

Some film scenes become so famous that the behavior of people who have never even seen them first-hand is also affected, added Eliak.

Eliak's perceptions of the effect film has on people's behavior are backed by Charles Ungerleider, an associate professor of sociology of education at the University of B.C.

"We're clearly affected by what we see on TV and in movies," the author of Television and Society: An Investigative Approach (Irwin Publishing) said in an interview.

"Film can create apprehensions and of course people do imitate some of the things they see in movies and TV. But behavior is most likely to be affected if there is close correspondence between what we see on film and what is in our own lives."