Directed by Kent Jones. Starring Alfred Hitchcock, Francois Truffaut, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater.
THE PLOT: In 1966, film director and former critic François Truffaut published the book “Cinema According to Hitchcock”. Fifty years later, filmmakers including David Fincher, Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater discuss how the book and Hitchcock’s work influenced their careers, while director Kent Jones examines just how the conversations between the filmmakers took place.
THE VERDICT: ‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’ is an engaging and fascinating documentary; to have such established and different filmmakers come together to talk about the career of Alfred Hitchcock is engaging enough, but to have this paired with the audio footage of the now famous interviews with François Truffaut makes for a cinematic treat.
At the time when Truffaut interviewed Hitchcock, he set out to remind audiences that the filmmaker was much more than a light entertainer, as he had come to be considered. Now, conversely, Hitchcock is regarded as a master filmmaker, but is perhaps not in the public consciousness as he could be. This is why ‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’ feels fresh and new, even as it takes a look back at films of the past.
Throughout the film, filmmakers including Martin Scorsese, James Grey, Peter Bogdanovich, Olivier Assayas, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater discuss the films of Hitchcock, through the lens of Truffaut’s interviews and books. These discussions are then interspersed with footage from Hitchcock’s film, along with clips from the interviews with Truffaut. One thing becomes clear very quickly; these filmmakers had their opinions of Hitchcock changed – one way or another – on reading Truffaut’s works. In keeping the list of interviewees comparatively short, director Kent Jones keeps the audience engaged with the discussions, while choosing respected filmmakers in their own right lends weight to the discussions on screen.
Kent Jones paces’ Hitchcock/Truffaut’ well, and never allows discussions of certain scenes or ideas in Hitchcock’s work to become drawn out or too involved. This gives the film a light feel and this, coupled with the respect the interviewees obviously have for Hitchcock, makes the film feel engaging and light, and stands to remind audiences just why Hitchcock was so successful and revered. As well as this, the film allows Hitchcock to speak for himself, giving an insight into the mind that made films including ‘Vertigo’, ‘The Birds’ and ‘Psycho’.
In all, ‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’ is for old fans and new ones alike; this is a fascinating documentary about one of the great filmmakers of all time, whose work is dissected and revered in by filmmakers still working today. The film is light and engaging, and reminds audiences of the power of Alfred Hitchcock’s work.
Review by Brogen Hayes

Review by Brogen Hayes
4.0Fresh & exciting
  • filmbuff2011

    The famous silhouette of the great Master of Suspense has cast a long shadow over directors for decades. His stylish, influential style of direction and manipulation of audience emotions and reactions has played a major part in the films of Brian De Palma.

    Strangely, De Palma is not one of the directors paying tribute in Hitchcock/Truffaut (he declined due to his own documentary, De Palma, where he pays tribute). It’s a documentary about the seminal meeting of minds between Hitch and fellow director Francois Truffaut. While Hitch was working at the height of his powers in the 1950s and early 1960s, he was approached by Truffaut for a series of recorded interviews. Truffaut, half Hitch’s age, had initially worked as a film critic for Cahiers Du Cinema and then turned to directing during the French New Wave with the likes of the classic The 400 Blows. With only three films under his belt, Truffaut went to meet Hitch at his office in Universal Studios. Over the course of a week, Hitch and Truffaut talked about their love of film, which then formed the basis for the key film text Hitchcock/Truffaut.

    Directed by Kent Jones and narrated by Truffaut’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind co-star Bob Balaban, Hitchcock/Truffaut the film is a dissection of both the book and the recordings, with contributions from notable directors like David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, Richard Linklater, Wes Anderson and Paul Schrader. They talk about how influential the book was, with Scorsese saying that it liberated directors and gave them the opportunity to take risks and try different ways of using the camera to tell the story. Hitch’s key films like Vertigo and Psycho are discussed in detail, with Fincher calling Vertigo a very perverse film. He’s right to some degree. So perceptive is Fincher, whose own films have respectfully borrowed a good deal from Hitch, that Jones brings him to the forefront to be the dominant contributor. With typical wit, Anderson says that his copy of the book is now a stack of papers just about being held together. The perspective of contemporary directors is a nice touch.

    For all its literate discussion of Hitchcock’s use of mise-en-scene and amusing talk of Hitch playing the audience like an organ, this film doesn’t really offer anything new. We already know all the stories about Hitch being brought to the police station by his father, prompting a lifelong distrust of the police, which translated into his films (e.g. The Wrong Man). We also know about his fetishes and about his opinions on actors and how he slyly manipulated them to get the performances he wanted. The film feels like it’s stuck on a broken record at times. More insight into lesser known facts about him would have been welcome, or coverage of his lesser known but still disturbing later films like the brilliant Frenzy. A bit more coverage of Truffaut’s own opinions would be good too. However, there’s still lots to admire here and cinephiles will certainly lap it up. A documentary about one of the world’s most inventive and genius directors is always welcome. People will never get tired of talking about Hitch. ***