When Hitchcock Met Truffaut & How Cinema Was Never The Same Again

By Srikanth Kanchinadham. Posted on May 28, 2015

There are very few filmmakers who've had the kind of impact that Hitchock has had on cinema. One of the few directors who pleased both critics and audiences, he is widely acknowledged as the unparalleled Master Of Suspense. Similarly François Truffaut has been hailed by many as one of the founders of French New Wave. Truffaut has directed over 25 films including Two English Girls (1971), Day for Night (1973) and The Woman Next Door (1981).

In 1962, the French New Wave director, Francois Truffaut carried out expansive interviews with Hitchcock at the Universal Studios. In these interviews, Hitchcock offers a detailed discussion on how he shot the scenes for his films like The Birds, Vertigo and Psycho. He also talks about how changes in scripts of Rebecca, Suspicion and Spellbound helped them to become better films.

There are nuggets of insights strewn throughout the discussion like this one below on Psycho;

François Truffaut: Would you say that Psycho is an experimental film?

Alfred Hitchcock: Possibly. My main satisfaction is that film had an effect on the audiences, and I consider that important...I feel it's tremendous for us to be able to use the cinematic art to achieve something of a mass emotion. And with Psycho we most definitely achieved this. It wasn't a message the stirred the audiences, nor was it a great performance or their enjoyment of the novel. They were aroused by pure film.

This happens to be just a small portion of the interview which eventually went on for a staggering 12 hours. Yes, you read that right! The interview which is divided in 25 parts has Truffaut speaking in French and has been translated English by Helen Scott of the French Film Office. The duration of each part is 25 mins and is a huge treasure trove of great filmmaking advice for young filmmakers out there.

These interviews were also featured in François Truffaut’s book titled Cinema According to Hitchcock. The book is regarded by many as the bible of cinema and is discussed by Wes Anderson, David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, Richard Linklater and other acclaimed directors in the documentary Hitchcock/Truffaut. The documentary directed by Kent Jones was released this year at Cannes.

Do watch Hitchcock's interview in the year 1976 where he responds to a range of serious and comical questions about his career, his filmmaking style, story, and directing.

Well, we’ve got all the 25 parts of Hitchcock and Truffaut's legendary conversation thereby giving you access to one of most prized possessions of cinema. Do download them here.


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