Hitchcock/Truffaut: the documentary

Hitchcock/Truffaut is released this week in the UK, a 90 minute insightful documentary on the relationship between two titans of cinema, Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut. The week long series of interviews between the two directors was conducted in August 1962, when Hitchcock was editing The Birds. Truffaut and translator Helen Scott flew to LA and interviewed Hitchcock extensively in his office. The book “Hitchcock” was not actually published until 1966. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this pioneering book, which has influenced generations of filmmakers, from Martin Scorsese to David Fincher, here are a selection of best quotes from the Hitchcock interviews.

From Hitchcock:

“One of the first things I learned in the school of art, was there was no such thing as a line. There was only light and shade. On the first day, I drew in lines.”

“In Saboteur, every time, I cut to the bomb, I cut to a different angle to give it a vitality. If I had cut to the same angle every time, the audience would have got used to it, but I wanted to say no, no, be careful.”

“In suspense it’s vital that the public know, or otherwise they have nothing to be suspenseful about. Mystery is not necessarily suspense. Mystery for example in a whodunit is an intellectual question? Suspense may be of it, and is necessary to involve emotion. Emotion is a necessary ingredient of suspense.Even with a group of evil men, the public will say be careful there’s a bomb. I don’t think they would say, oh good, they will be blown up.”

From Truffaut:

“Hitchcock has never won an Oscar, although he is the only living filmmaker whose films, when they are reissued twenty years after their first appearance, are as strong at the box office as new films. . . the basic premise of the film: “Birds attack people.” I am convinced that cinema was invented so that such a film could be made. Everyday birds — sparrows, seagulls, crows — take to attacking ordinary people, the inhabitants of a seacoast village. This is an artist’s dream; to carry it off requires a lot of art, and you need to be the greatest technician in the world.”

No film of Hitchcock’s has ever shown a more deliberate progression: as the action unfolds, the birds become blacker and blacker, more and more numerous, increasingly evil. When they attack people, they prefer to go for their eyes. Basically fed up with being captured and put in cages – if not eaten – the birds behave as if they had decided to reverse the role.

Hitchcock thinks that The Birds is his most important film. I think so too in a certain way – although I’m not sure. Starting with such a powerful mold, Hitch realized that he had to be extremely careful with the plot so that it would be more than a pretext to connect scenes of bravura or suspense. He created a very successful character, a young San Francisco woman, sophisticated and snobbish, who, in enduring all these bloody experiences, discovers simplicity and naturalness.

The Birds can be considered a special effects film, indeed, but the special effects are realistic. In fact, Hitchcock’s mastery of the art grows greater with each film and he constantly needs to invent new difficulties for himself. He has become the ultimate athlete of cinema.

In actual fact Hitchcock is never forgiven for making us afraid, deliberately making us afraid. I believe, however, that fear is a noble emotion and that it can be noble to cause fear. It is noble to admit that one has been afraid and has taken pleasure in it. One day, only children will possess this nobility.”

Read more quotes in Alfred Hitchcock’s Movie Making Masterclass http://www.amazon.com/Alfred-Hitchcocks-Moviemaking-Master-Class/dp/1615931376/ref=sr_1_fkmr2_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1456959435&sr=8-3-fkmr2&keywords=alfred+hitchcock+movie+making+masterclass

 

 

 

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