Review: Hitchcock/Truffaut

The story of an artist who wrote with the camera

HitchcockTruffaut_posterThe atmosphere in the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, before and after the screening of the documentary film “Hitchcock / Truffaut”, should be sufficient to highlight the importance of Kent Jones’ decision to visualize one of the most important film books of all time. Due to the fact that it is very difficult to visualize a person like Alfred Hitchcock, with which I’m sure François Truffaut would agree, this mix of tension, joy, confusion and excitement after the film is something that Jones certainly expected, and in some ways hoped for.

In 1962, then French film critic, director and leading figure of the French Nouvelle Vague François Truffaut spent a week interviewing Alfred Hitchcock about his career as the master of suspense. Transcript of those exchanged words, which was published in 1966, remains one of the most relevant written works of film art nowadays, viewed through the perfect lens of talented Truffaut. Carefully deconstructing every film Hitchcock has ever made, Truffaut was determined to release Hitchcock from the group of director-entertainers, and convert him into what he truly was, an auteur. If there was an opportunity for Truffaut to direct Hitchcock in some of his films, it would reminisce their To mark the 50-year anniversary since the transcript was published, Kent Jones gave a new meaning to it by creating a documentary made out of the audio recordings and commentary by today’s cinema’s greats such as David Fincher, Martin Scorcese, Wes Anderson, Peter Bogdanovich, Richard Linklater, Paul Schrader and Akira Kurosawa.

As expected, every director had a completely different observation of the book and Hitchock’s work, delivering therefor the effect some of his films made on them and their films. Fincher spoke of his inexplicable and obvious lack of closeness to Hitchcock, while Scorcese completely focused on this revolutionary book and film individualism. Kurosawa highlighted the impact Hitchcock made on Hollywood of that time, while Bogdanovich praised the man who had a mathematical sense of space and structure, which was always in his head and which he never questioned. Perhaps one of the most interesting and the most concrete comments were made by Richard Linklater, who said that you can watch Hitchcock’s movies without music and dialogue and still love them.

After the not so successful film from 2012 ,, Hitchcock, “directed by Sasha Gervasi, whose focus was only part of his personality, it’s safe to say that it was about time for something like this. Thanks to Truffaut then and Kent Jones now, we have a cleaner idea who Hitchcock really was. Even though, strangely enough, the film failed to present a visible connection between what directors said at the beginning and later, as well as the fact that you can find these audio transcripts anywhere, Jones still managed to bring Hitchcock to the world in a new, fresher light. At one moment you are not aware whether you’re really watching a documentary about a conversation, or you’re actually attending it.

Director Kent Jones in a conversation with the host at the ILC in London
Director Kent Jones in a conversation with the host at the ICA in London

While responding to the questions from the audience after the premiere, Kent Jones said that his first encounter with the book came when he was 12 years old. Last year when he was offered to visualize it, he didn’t hesitate for a minute: ,, I wanted to continue their conversation. ” As Jones pointed out, for Truffaut this interview was just as important as shooting any of his films. In the same way that he wanted to release Hitchcock from entertaining labels, he was once liberated by Renoir, Rossellini and all of the members of then Cahier du Cinema. ,,Truffaut wrote this book with such ease as his films were. You can easily visualize the text, “said Jones.

If we take into consideration the specific display of women in Hitchcock’s films, we can only regret that in the documentary we did not have the opportunity to hear some of the comments from the women directors. But it was not feasible because, as we were informed by Kent Jones, none of the four that were approached were not in the mood to participate. Without commenting any further, we can assume that the reason for it is lies exactly within this specific link which Hitchcock had with women he directed, as well as presented in his work.

Hitchcock will be remembered as the master of suspense, noise and fear. But after watching this documentary, and realizing once more what legacy and effect he still has on nowadays cinema, Hitchcock becomes a film’s sculptor.

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