Hitchcock/Truffaut centers around the famous conversation between legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and French film icon François Truffaut. They spend a week together at Universal Studios (with a translator of course) and discuss cinema and every single one of Hitchcock’s films released to date. In the US, the name Hitchcock (at the time) was synonymous with creating the equivalent of film fluff pieces. Today, we recognize the extent of his influence and genius use of practical effects and masterfully constructed camera illusions, but it wasn’t always so. Truffaut and the French New Wave were one of the first groups to recognize Hitchcock’s contributions as art.
Through the recorded audio conversation, we explore bits of their past, their views on Hollywood, and a look at some of Hitchcock’s masterpieces. Writer/director Kent Jones gives this documentary a similar treatment as he did in A Letter to Elia. Instead of just of just focusing on Elia Kazan’s immeasurable influence on Martin Scorsese, Hitchcock/Truffaut explores how Hitchcock influenced the aesthetic style (both visual and written) or popular directors like Scorsese, David Fincher, Wes Anderson and Olivier Assayas. Each of these filmmakers has been undeniably influenced by Hitchcock, and their work is proof of it, some more obvious than others.
In A Letter to Elia, Kent’s focus was on paying tribute to Kazan through the exploration of his genius and how it influenced Scorsese directly. Kent does the same thing, except shining the spotlight almost wholly on Hitchcock, leaving Truffaut as more of a sideline anecdote. Both Truffaut and Hitchcock were prolific in their own respects, but like Hitchcock’s unmistakable silhouette, it overshadows everything else. The film’s exploration of popular Hitchcockian themes and techniques will inspire you revisit his work with a new-found sense of curiosity and vigor.
Many cinefiles are well-learned on the technical aspects inside of every major Hitchcock production, but like the great book of the same name, Hitchcock/Truffaut gives us a rare, backstage look at the creative process. Truffaut’s idolization of Hitchcock is well deserved, and their exchange shows why it should be a universal sentiment in Hollywood. The greatest contribution the film offers is being able get into the mind of a cinematic master and hear Alfred Hitchcock explain his own methodology. We hear Hitchcock explain his process, as well as some potentially polarizing views, like referring to actors as cattle. In that way, Hitchcock/Truffaut unites both Hitchcock veterans and novices in an unique experience that is just a gateway to a bigger adventure. You’ll inevitably revisit his films, see how magnificently insidious his artistry is, and even recognize it’s influence in many contemporary films.
RATING: ★★★★★★★★ (8/10 stars)