In 1962, legendary filmmakers Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut locked themselves away in Hollywood for a week to excavate the secrets behind the mise-en-sc¸ne in cinema. Based on the original recordings of this meeting - used to produce the mythical book Hitchcock/Truffaut - this film illustrates the greatest cinema lesson of all time and takes us into the world of the creator of Psycho, The Birds, and Vertigo. Hitchcock's surprisingly modern art is elucidated and explained by several of today's leading filmmakers.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A surprisingly intimate, revealing and engaging documentary, this is not just for the cinema buffs and film tragics who deconstruct films like clever kids take apart lego worlds. The amazing thing is that director Kent Jones gets it done in 80 minutes, considering the wealth and depth of the material - a book full of interviews conducted over eight days. Yet it is not rushed nor skimpy.
The fascination for Hitchcock's mastery is illuminated, but still, a mystery remains, despite Hitchcock being totally open and unguarded about his methods and motivations. The latter is like a psychology lesson, delving into his Christianity, fantasies and the important role that guilt plays in his filmmaking. (Guilt links to his faith, of course...)
The film is richly textured, with sound bites from the actual taped interviews, photographs taken at the time, footage from films, and interviews with some of today's filmmakers who regard Hitchcock as a master: Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Arnaud Desplechin, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Wes Anderson, James Gray, Olivier Assayas, Richard Linklater, Peter Bogdanovich and Paul Schrader.
What makes the film appealing to audiences is its humanity and its down to earth conversation about the human condition. Even those who have scant knowledge of filmmaking or are not familiar with Hitchcock's work, should find it engaging, and no doubt would feel encouraged to seek out some of the films explored, not least Vertigo and Psycho, two of the films in which the film takes special interest.
There is also a personal footnote in the relationship between the younger Truffaut and the veteran Hitchcock when they come together in the 1960s for this memorable series of conversations. Those were the days Hitchcock was regarded as a 'mere entertainer' by the serious folk in Hollywood. Nothing wrong with being an entertainer, but Hitchcock's work is not popcorn or fast food. Is it art? Well, if your definition of art is something of lasting value, many of his films qualify.
Review by Louise Keller:
If you love Hitchcock's films or are interested in cinema, you will be fascinated by this documentary that not only shows the genius of 'the man who wrote with a camera', but offers greater appreciation for such films as Vertigo, Notorious, Psycho and The Birds. Marking 50 years since the publication of Francois Truffaut's seminal book based on his interviews with Alfred Hitchcock, filmmaker Kent Jones invites us into the two filmmakers' worlds, exploring their works through film clips, storyboards and interviews with leading directors of today. Insightful, intelligent, humorous and sensual, there is nothing dry about this doco that whets our appetite to revisit films we have seen and loved and to discover those with which we are less familiar.
Truffaut and Hitchcock are men of different generations and cultures when they meet in 1962 for a series of interviews discussing his films and filmic style. Hitchcock, twice the age of 30 year old young filmmaker Truffaut, is at the peak of his success when he agrees to the French man's request and the 8 days of interviews are recorded, albeit somewhat hindered by the fact an interpreter is required. The resulting book changes the world's perception of Hitchcock, who assumes the elevated status of 'artist' rather than simply that of 'entertainer'. Hitch's visual style is studied through his camera perspectives, expansion and contraction of time and by the unique vision he brings to his films. The fact that the two men become life-long friends is one that sits nicely and surprisingly Truffaut's death is only four years after that of Hitchcock.
Beyond the academic, there are intelligent observations made by filmmakers including David Fincher, Olivier Assayas Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese and Richard Linklater, who discuss this 'sculptor of time', his dissatisfaction with the ordinary, the way he uses his actors as tools for his vision and the blurring of dreams with realism. Logic is dull, is said to be one of Hitchcock's favourite sayings. Highlights are the innate sense of Hitchcock himself and insights into the artistry behind specific films and scenes. Like the erotic subtext in Vertigo's transformation scene when Kim Novak dyes her hair blonde at Jimmy Stewart's insistence. Hitchcock's parallel of a stripper who takes off all her clothes but leaves her knickers on (in his own words and voice), is indelible in my mind's eye.
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HITCHCOCK TRUFFAUT (PG)
CAST: Documentary featuring Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Arnaud Desplechin, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Wes Anderson, James Gray, Olivier Assayas, Richard Linklater, Peter Bogdanovich and Paul Schrader
NARRATION: Bob Balaban
PRODUCER: Charles S. Cohen, Olivier Mille
DIRECTOR: Kent Jones
SCRIPT: Kent Jones, Serge Toubiana
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Nick Bentgen, Daniel Cowen, Eric Gautier, Mihai Malaimare Jr, Lisa Rinzler, Genta Tamaki
EDITOR: Rachel Reichman
MUSIC: Jeremiah Bornfoeld
RUNNING TIME: 80 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Curious
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 21, 2016