Filmmakers discuss how Francois Truffaut’s 1966 book “Cinema According to Hitchcock” influenced their work.
‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’ is an insightful documentary focusing on the week long series of interviews with Alfred Hitchcock by French critic turned French New Wave director Francois Truffaut in 1962. The documentary is very conventional in style, and the actual framing device of Truffaut’s interviews doesn’t feature all that much, with the lack of video footage perhaps a barrier to making the conversations between the two directors feel truly cinematic. Instead, the documentary takes the ‘talking head’ approach, with a series of acclaimed directors providing their views on Hitchcock’s work, whilst footage from his films plays in the background to support the comments.
Francois Truffaut was originally a film critic at the legendary French film magazine ‘Cahiers du cinema’, and his relatively unique standing as both a critic and director put him in an ideal position to interview Hitchcock. Truffaut’s reason for wanting to interview Hitchcock is explained early on in the documentary and it’s a purpose that would seem surprising nowadays. During Hitchcock’s prime, he was seen as an entertainer as opposed to a true artist and Truffaut wanted to change the general consensus on the man’s work through conversation that would illuminate the truly cinematic approach Hitchcock took to his material. Of course, these days we can all appreciate that it is possible to be both an entertainer and an auteur in the truest sense (by that, I mean the way the writers and later filmmakers of ‘Cahiers du cinema’ define auteur theory), and Hitchcock has rarely been surpassed in excelling at both. This documentary does a good job of portraying that case and the clips from Hitchcock’s films are used to strong effect to bring his words to life.
There’s a lot to love here for fans of Hitchcock and cinema in general, but there’s always a feeling that this is barely skimming the surface – a greatest hits approach to Hitchcock if you will. For a more in depth look at the man’s work, I’d recommend getting hold of a copy of Truffaut’s book based on these interviews, or revisiting Hitchcock’s extensive filmography.
Directed By: Kent Jones
Starring: Alfred Hitchcock, Francois Truffaut, Wes Anderson, Peter Bogdanovich and Bob Balaban