Director Kent Jones gives us a unique insight into a week in 1962 where Francois Truffaut and Alfred Hitchcock sat down and talked about the craft of film.
This legendary conversation was later documented by Truffaut in a book ‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’ now deemed as ‘the bible’ of cinema – a book that can’t be missed by film students.
The documentary is not a visual version of the book, rather Hitchcock/Truffaut gives the book and Hitchcock’s works a place in both the history as well as the future of cinema.
As Hitchcock’s films are dissected in this documentary, he is too. Like a jigsaw puzzle the audience gets to piece together who he really was, what he was creating and what his films meant to him.
The narrative is laid out as an ode to Hitchcock, a feeling reinforced by the words of other directors who discuss his works throughout.
Hitchcock shows us how he mathematically constructs his scenes. We look at structure, theory, mise-en-scene and all the components needed to create a Hitchcock classic, and in turn this allows us to explore cinema as a whole.
The ‘Master of Suspense’ also shows us how he brings about the tension on screen that he is so famed for and how he seeks to gain reactions from his audiences. As a viewer you get to enjoy Hitchcock’s company and want to hear more.
Truffaut’s main objective when interviewing Hitchcock was to show that his films weren’t just Hollywood entertainment. They were art and Hitchcock was an artist.
There is no doubt that Hitchcock’s filmmaking skills are that of an artist, an auteur. But what makes you enjoy this documentary is that this is a study by auteurs for auteurs. Truffaut gives us and cinephiles worldwide a glimpse into Hitchcock’s working mind, and Jones lays this out for our consumption.
The film has intimacy and sentiment. Though directors Hitchcock and Truffaut are from different generations, cultures and backgrounds, film is something that brings them together.
Truffaut is not just talking to a great director though, he is sitting with the ‘Master of Suspense’, a great auteur and in a sense his father figure. This relationship built out of many parts really manifests itself in the archaic footage and recordings. Truffaut is as excited and ecstatic to be with Hitchcock as we are. And it is heartwarming to see it isn’t just us, the audience, who get to explore cinema in a new way.