"Dissecting the Work of the ‘Master of Suspense’"
What You Need To Know:
HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT is an appealing, insightful documentary. However, at 80 minutes, it’s too short. It only hits some of the highlights of Hitchcock’s career and overlooks major movies like REAR WINDOW and NORTH BY NORTHWEST. HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT touches on some moral themes in Hitchcock’s work. However, it’s too obsessed with the lust, guilt and obsession, particularly during the movie’s lengthy discussions of PSYCHO and VERTIGO. It virtually ignores the moral elements in those two movies. MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for that discussion and some images of film violence, including images from PSYCHO’s infamous shower scene.
(HH, B, C, L, VV, S, M) Strong humanist, psychological exploration of the work of Director Alfred Hitchcock, mitigated by some light moral elements and some references to one or more Christian characters and images in his movies and other minor faith-oriented aspects of the subjects in question; no obscenities and two light profanities include OMG and God forbid!; brief strong disturbing scenes of violence include images from the shower murder scene and the stabbing of the detective in PSYCHO; some references to sexuality, sensuality and obsession; no alcohol; no smoking or drugs; and, discussion of obsession and guilt and someone says, “Logic is dull.”
HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT is a documentary about an interview the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, did in 1962 with French filmmaker Francois Truffaut, that was an in-depth discussion of Hitchcock’s work and each of his movies made up to that time. HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT is fascinating and entertaining to watch, but it skips over some interesting aspects and is mostly a humanist, psychological analysis of Hitchcock’s work, with only light moral elements. As such, it’s too fascinated by some of the more obsessive, disturbing aspects of Hitchcock’s movies.
HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT uses old footage from the original interview, other interviews with Hitchcock and Truffaut, and contemporary interviews with filmmakers such as Martin Scorsese. Truffaut published and revised a book of his interview, one of the first of its kind, and that book became a staple of film programs throughout the world. Besides Scorsese, among the other filmmakers interviewed for the documentary include Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, Peter Bogdanovich, Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, and Japanese filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa. The movie spends a lot of time on discussing Hitchcock’s movies VERTIGO and PSYCHO, but discusses scenes from other movies, such as the lengthy kiss between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman during the first act of NOTORIOUS. It also gives an overview of his biography and that of Truffaut, who began his career as a film critic in France re-evaluating the careers of Hollywood filmmakers like Hitchcock.
It’s strange no one’s ever thought of making a documentary about this interview, a seminal event in both cinema history and film studies. As such, HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT is an appealing, insightful documentary. That said, at 80 minutes, the movie’s a bit short. It only hits some of the highlights of Hitchcock’s career and overlooks some major movies such as REAR WINDOW, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, THE 39 STEPS, SHADOW OF A DOUBT, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, and REBECCA. More audio from Truffaut’s interview with the great man could only add to the movie’s appeal.
HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT touches a little bit on the moral themes in Hitchcock’s work. However, it’s too obsessed with the lust, guilt and obsession in his movies, including during the movie’s more lengthy discussion of PSYCHO and VERTIGO.
For example, many people focus on the lust and obsession in those two movies and other Hitchcock movies. What they neglect, however, is the moral center of such Hitchcock movies. Though VERTIGO is indeed about lust and obsession, that movie is also a heartbreaking moral treatise on the dangers of not just lust and obsession, but also the dangers of trying to mold our romantic love interests into the people we think they should be instead of accepting them for the people they are. [SPOILERS FOLLOW] At the end of that movie, Jimmy Stewart’s troubled protagonist has unintentionally and tragically killed the object of his desire. The movie’s final shot depicts the protagonist with outstretched, but empty, hands. Not only that, but a scene before the sequence leading to this tragic ending suggests that what happens may just be a terrible continuing nightmare in the tortured mind of the hero, who lies catatonic in a mental hospital. Is it a dream, or did it really happen? Thus, long before leftist feminists prattled on endlessly about men’s “objectification of women,” Hitchcock was already exploring that issue in a powerful and devastating, but moral and psychological, way.
Caution is advised for HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT because of the talk about lust and obsession, plus shots from some of the violent scenes in a few of Hitchcock’s movies, such as the infamous shower scene in PSYCHO.