Hitchcock/Truffaut shares its names with a quintessential book for film-makers and film lovers alike. In 1962 Alfred Hitchcock was at the top of his game, his career at the beginning of its end. Two years earlier he had terrified audiences with Psycho and revolutionized the horror genre by essentially inventing ‘the slasher film’. Francois Truffaut’s career was only just taking off. His autobiographical début, The 400 Blows had confirmed his talent as a face of the French New Wave and was about to be followed by his masterful Jules and Jim. During this year, and over the course of 8 days, Truffaut intensely interview Hitchcock, his cinematic hero and ultimate inspiration. Their conversations because a book, a book which is widely considered to be one of the most vital reads for any director or anyone passionate about the art form and all of its technical and detailed brilliance. Now the book finds its way into the medium it loves so dearly. Kent Jones’ Hitchcock/Truffaut is a delightful companion piece to the literature it discusses. A study of each director, the infamous interview and Hitchcock’s masterful style and approach, Hitchcock/Truffaut almost feels as though it should be sold with each copy of the book – neatly slipped in between the pages. As well as analysing its two central legends, there are also interviews with famous contemporary directors who speak of the books importance and the inspiration both film-makers had, and still have, over their individual practice.
Hitchcock, as I suppose he did in the interview, certainly takes centre stage here. There are countless clips from his greatest films and some delightfully underrated ones. Jones is clearly a lover of cinema and all the masters that come with it. This is second feature film; his first was another documentary on the great, late director Elia Kazan. He pieces together different talking heads, combining them with footage of Hitchcock’s work to create cinematic deconstructions of cinema itself. The likes of Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson and David Fincher are here to walk us through it all. It would have been nice to see more of Truffaut and his finer details being explored. There are few but not enough. In this way, the film is a perfect reincarnation of the book but perhaps seeing a celebration of Truffaut as well as the great Hitch would have added a new dimension; a gracious nod to the book’s creator. Still, Hitchcock/Truffaut is terribly enjoyable and interesting for anyone who likes indulging in the way movies work. I especially warmed to the way that the film displayed Truffaut’s humbleness in the presence of his idol. It’s also a reminder that the old ones are the best and movies, when done right, are timeless. All in all it’s a celebration of a master, his timeless work and a historic interview, captured in an essential book by an equal who saw himself as an inferior craftsman.
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