Today Alfred Hitchcock is a pop culture icon, a man revered for his mastery of the cinematic form. Films like “Vertigo,” “Rear Window,” “North By Northwest” and “Psycho” helped redefine what movies could do. More than thirty years after his 1980 death the “Daily Telegraph” said he “did more than any director to shape modern cinema.” High praise indeed but he wasn’t always so highly regarded.
In 1962 Hitchcock and French director and all-round cinephile François Truffaut spent a week talking, dissecting each of the Master of Suspense’s movies. The sessions were recorded and eventually became the1966 book “Cinema According to Hitchcock,” one of the best texts ever written about film. Truffaut’s enthusiasm for his subject and the book’s success changed popular opinion and soon Hitchcock was seen in a different light, as a true cinematic artist and not simply a director of thrillers.
The new documentary “Hitchcock/Truffaut” brings the original 1962 audio interviews to life using still photos, clips from Hitch’s films and storyboards. Interspersed with the source material are new interviews with acolytes Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, David Fincher and Olivier Assayas.
Taken as a companion piece to the book the doc acts almost as a DVD extra, a backstage glimpse into the content that sheds light on the original document. Fans of the book will find the experience of the book enhanced by hearing the two men (through a translator) getting down to the nitty gritty of cinema nuance. Newcomers should gain a new understanding of Hitchcock as the author of his films as an auteur whose personality is imprinted on every frame of film he ever shot.