Documentary looking at a legendary tome and its influence on several generations of filmmakers
In 1966 renowned filmmaker François Truffaut published his appreciation of the man he considered the world’s greatest director, Alfred Hitchcock. The book, a definitive and highly accessible study, contains the in-depth conversations the two men had on each of Hitchcock’s films and the illustrations and photographs include shot-by-shot breakdowns of cinematic sequences. Hitchcock and Truffaut were of different generations, cultures and sensibilities, but their shared passion as two men who lived and breathed film made them a beautiful match.
Kent Jones’ documentary takes us through their relationship, Hitchcock’s career and the creation of the book, with a wealth of archive material, film clips and recorded extracts from the 1960s interviews. And a cavalcade of celebrated contemporary filmmakers discuss how they were thrilled, inspired and enlightened by the book. Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater are just a few of the directors whose enthusiasm is both infectious and instructive. Scorsese on his own we could listen to for an hour and a half analysing Psycho and Vertigo, but Fincher is also particularly astute and fascinating, while every participant (including Peter Bogdanovich, Paul Schrader, Olivier Assayas, Kiyoshi Kurosawa) has something insightful to say about Hitch, Truffaut and ‘The Bible’ of the art, craft and technique of moviemaking by masters.
There are lively and very relevant discussions about art versus entertainment and commerce, amusing views of working with actors, and observations about the use of space, light, colour, design and editing. Linklater focuses on Hitch as ‘the master sculptor of moments of time’, Fincher praises the titular pair for explaining ‘at its most fundamental’ what the work of a director is. A treat for Hitchcock fans and cineastes, this is absolutely a primer for any and all budding filmmakers and should send people rushing out to get a book that’s still in print and still arguably the most indispensible tome on movies ever written.
Selected release from Fri 4 Mar.