Hitchcock/Truffaut

Director: Kent Jones (2016)

This documentary is a respectful introduction to the work of two hugely influential film makers, Alfred Hitchcock and Francois Truffaut.

In 1962 and accompanied by a translator and a photographer, the young French director spent a week with the British master.

The lengthy interviews were recorded and turned into a book.

Now directors including as Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Wes Anderson and David Fincher discuss how that book is considered a bible of film making.

There’s wonderful footage from Hitchcock classics such as North By North West (1959) and from his pre-Hollywood work.

A disproportionate time is spent discussing the merits of Vertigo (1958). Despite a surprisingly low key Scorsese’s best efforts to convince, I remain immune to its obsessions.

The dynamic between the two men hints at more than the documentarians intended to show.

Though The Birds (1963) was still yet to come, Hitch was at the tail end of his career while the young French dynamo had made a blistering start to film with The Four Hundred Blows (1959) and Jules Et Jim (1962).

Undoubtedly Truffaut was a consummate networker and had built his career on befriending powerful older men and persuading them to mentor him.

Claiming he wanted to record Hitch’s thoughts to establish his reputation as an artist not merely an entertainer, Truffaut comes across as disingenuous, grasping for Hitch’s knowledge to further his own career.

The ageing Hitch was not immune to the Frenchman’s flattery and within a couple of years Truffaut completed the British sci-fi feature Fahrenheit 451 (1966).

Both men had formative experiences of the criminal justice system early in life and there’s discussion how much this informed the frequent occurrences of punishment and guilt in their films.

Enjoyable but far too brief, Hitchcock/Truffaut works best during the moments Hitch interviews are used as a commentary to his own unique vision.

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