Searching for Hitchcock – ★★★
The trouble with documentaries about great filmmakers is that you usually wind up wanting to watch their films again rather than the documentary. Hitchcock/Truffaut is no different. The central premise of the film concerns the book Truffaut published in 1967 concerning a series of interviews between the two men with the help of a translator. Paraded in front of the camera are a series of contemporary filmmakers who espouse the virtues of Hitchcock and how this book was their bible, Truffaut St. Peter and Hitchcock God, or something like that.
Upon their meeting Truffaut had made a name for himself as one of the stars of the French new wave with The 400 Blows and Jules and Jim and Hitchcock was a world famous director with many successes under his belt. What made the meeting seem so odd was that Truffaut was this art house wonder kid and Hitchcock a stuffy studio entertainer. Yet Truffaut when asked always professed Hitchcock’s films to be his favourite.The two hit it off and it soon becomes clear that while Hitchcock may be an entertainer or a populist he certainly was a master of his craft.
A central point of the film concerns whether Hitchcock stayed too rigidly to form and didn’t experiment enough throughout his career. He seemingly wondered himself if he was merely an entertainer and not a true artist. The film offers great insight into how his Catholic upbringing definitely had an influence on his film making just like the fact he started in silent films evidently impacted on how he told a story.
As the film’s central premise is the interviews and some background on the two directors it can be forgiven for leaving or not focusing at length on certain aspects. The way he treated his actors, especially women is brushed over and the piece comes across as one big love in. It’s hard to make an audio interview with still images exciting so the talking heads are cut in between to expand on what has just been said.
All the contributors are male directors which speaks volumes about the makeup of the field today or perhaps sheds light on how he is viewed by female directors. Some of the talking head directors come across as smug, as they realised how much of a genius Hitchcock was and as they try to emulate him are also a type of genius in their own right.
An odd film that’s a documentary about a book that’s about an interview with a filmmaker. I think your time would be better spent re watching Vertigo and trying to understand that or merely enjoy the suspense ride that is Rear Window.
Hitchcock/Truffaut opens Friday the 4th of March