Director: Kent Jones
By Rhys Tarling
Hitchcock/Truffaut is a documentary on the interview between filmmakers Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut – an interview that would form the basis for Truffaut’s 1966 book, Cinema According to Hitchcock. Truffaut, a film critic turned filmmaker, was on a mission to prove that Hitchcock wasn’t only a purveyor of mass entertainment – he was an artist, an auteur.
Although Hitchcock was the master and arbiter of the form to such an extent that he considered actors “cattle” to be herded to realise his vision, and Truffaut was of the French New Wave that produced loose and improvisational work whose visual beauty was somewhat incidental, the two bonded over their mutual love of cinema and formed a friendship that lasted until their deaths.
Hitchcock/Truffaut touches on this historic friendship, sure, but rather than being a history lesson, this film is more like being granted a seat at the lunch table with film legends – it’s casual and refreshingly unpretentious. At 80 minutes, the film never outlasts its welcome and is palatable for both the genuine aficionado and the mildly curious.
The documentary is interspersed with auteur filmmakers – David Fincher, Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, and Martin Scorsese — discussing and dissecting Hitchcock’s vision. They provide fascinating commentary for scenes and shots that appear mouldy to modern eyes, but are rendered exciting and gorgeous again by the grace of their considerable insight.
David Fincher, director of Fight Club and Gone Girl, who might be Hitchcock’s spiritual successor, what with his own brand of immaculately constructed thrillers cloaked with a clinically sexy style, provides the greatest insights into Hitchcock’s philosophy – most pertinently that Hitchcock was the first ever filmmaker to consider the celluloid a canvas upon which to paint his secretest fetishes and greatest fears; something that informed his own filmmaking philosophy, which is that “people are perverts”.
Curiously though, the film’s end dangles a question which is answered by the existence of this documentary: was Alfred Hitchcock a peddler of thrills or a true artist? Of course he was both.