Hitchcock/Truffaut

 

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Truffaut’s 1962 interviews with Hitchcock yielded a famous book: now they are re-visited and re-evaluated on film.


This documentary feature by Kent Jones is based on the week-long interviews which François Truffaut had when he visited America and talked at length to one of his favourite directors, Alfred Hitchcock. What Truffaut was aiming to do was to establish through their discussions that he was right to believe that Hitchcock was not just a great popular entertainer but a true artist. At the time of the book’s publication some were fascinated but also sceptical. Certain voices were heard suggesting that Hitchcock was simply playing along and not disagreeing when the Frenchman voiced ideas about the depth, the artistry and the possibly hidden meanings in his work. For Truffaut, however, Alfred Hitchcock was nothing less than an artist who wrote with the camera.

All these years later most film enthusiasts would endorse Truffaut’s ideas (as witness the present standing of Vertigo) and this film is not out to challenge them in any way. Instead both sound and images from the original interviews are now intercut with comments from ten notable directors including Scorsese, Fincher, Linklater and Schrader: all of them speak in praise of Hitchcock and some offer their own personal interpretations (in the case of foreign filmmakers such as Assayas, Desplechin and Kurosawa Kiyoshi their comments are suitably subtitled in English). This version of the film has Bob Balaban as narrator and he naturally speaks in English, but in France you get Mathieu Amalric.
 

HitchcockTruffaut

Smoke/screen: François Truffaut grills Alfred Hitchcock

 

Given the length of Hitchcock’s career it is impossible to give real coverage to many titles that some would wish to find featured. However, if the favoured titles time-wise are Vertigo and Psycho, it is good to see that among the excerpts included due emphasis is given to The Wrong Man which, like Vertigo, was seriously underestimated when it first appeared here. Not all of the many clips are identified and only the film’s prologue touches on Hitchcock’s background and personal life (there is mention here of his wife, Alma Reville, and a glimpse of the domestic Hitchcock taken from home movies). There’s no certainty that the viewer will gain fresh insights, but film buffs will certainly appreciate the film and, while its running time of 80 minutes may leave you wanting more, that is much better than going on for too long.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Featuring Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Olivier Assayas, Peter Bogdanovich, Wes Anderson, James Gray, Paul Schrader, Kurosawa Kiyoshi, Arnaud Desplechin, Richard Linklater and Bob Balaban (narrator).

 

Dir Kent Jones, Pro Charles S. Cohen and Olivier Mille, Written by Kent Jones and Serge Toubiana, Ph Mihai Malaimare Jr, Daniel Cowen, Éric Gautier and others, Ed Rachel Reichman, Music Jeremiah Bornfield.

 

Artline Films/ Cohen Media Group/Arte France etc.-Dogwoof.
80 mins. France/USA. 2015. Rel: 4 March 2016. Cert. 12A.