Listening to the Hitchcock-Truffaut Interview Janet Bergstrom Hitchcock to Truffaut, discussing Notorious (): From the recorded interview: "It's like killing a. Read Hitchcock PDF - by Francois Truffaut Simon & Schuster | Iconic, groundbreaking interviews of Alfred Hitchcock by film critic François. File:François Truffaut An Interview ().pdf. File; File history; File usage. François_Truffaut_An_Interview_().pdf (file size: MB, MIME type.
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Read Hitchcock by François Truffaut for free with a 30 day free trial. In the fifties and sixties, Hitchcock was at the height of his creativity and popularity. He was. FULL BOOK PDF. PDF The “Hitchbook” was precisely that sort of book for Truffaut. He began the In the frontispiece to the final version of the Hitchbook, Truffaut writes, “Alfred Hitchcock made 53 films and one daughter. In Hitchcock and Truffaut locked themselves away in. Hollywood for a week to excavate the secrets behind the mise-en- scène in cinema. Based on the.
Truffaut asked Hitchcock about lynching in connection with the handcuffs that the Jack-the-Ripper suspect at the end of The Lodger got hung up on, literally, as he tried to climb over a fence to escape from the mob chasing him.
Hitchcock then asked him a question he didn't expect, and the rest of their discussion did not end up in the book: HiTCHCOCK: The handcuffs, of course, were pause a thing, an idea that goes, I don't know, psychologically, fairly deep. It's somewhere in the area of the fetish, isn't it? Isn't that so? It's very much impressed me in your films.
I don't get this idea [sens] at all. Being tied to something.. After departing from sex for a few moments, Hitchcock mentioned a "sexual connotation" and then talked about the Vice Museum in Paris Neither Truffaut nor Helen Scott was well-informed about silent film history.
Hitchcock emphasized seeing films made by Decla-Bioscop, explaining how Decla- Bioscop came before Ufa, which would make a natural bridge to his own early work in Germany.
But this information fell on deaf ears. Hitchcock began by designing art for the intertitles of silent films. Truffaut asked him to explain.
Hitchcock replied that all title cards were "illustrated [ J You had, in those days, narrative titles and spoken titles" ftl. As published, this became, "On each card you had the narrative title, the dialogue, and a small drawing" 27 , thereby erasing Hitchcock's distinction between the two kinds of title cards. Discussing Spellbound, Truffaut admired the kiss followed by seven doors that open , but Hitchcock's reply was cut: "I got that from the research.
I said, what is the best symbol for people falling in love for the first time, and it was the opening of doors" ft He wanted David O. Selznick to hire Salvador Dali to design the dream sequences so that they would be sharper and more clear than the rest of the film, unlike the usual technique of fliming dreams with a blurry, hazy look Hitchcock told Truffaut why he couldn't get that effect from his cinematog- rapher, but it was cut: "I had, as I told you, George Barnes the cameraman, and the photography would be soft because he is a woman's photographer" ft While the truth value of Hitchcock's statements in a general sense was usually not significantly affected by all the small changes for the nonspecialist reader for whom the details might not be important, what got lost for everyone was a sense of the experience of the exchange and the opportunity to witness how this direc- tor thought of, and remembered, his logical, step-by-step process of seeing prob- lems and then solving them in a way that combined narrative, emotion, and mise-en-scene - exactly why Truffaut had chosen Hitchcock in the first place.
From innumerable possible examples, take the way Hitchcock talked about The Lodger.
Just after Hitchcock told Truffaut that he had found a style, he described opening the film with Lost in Translation? Listening to the Hitchcock-Truffaut Interview the head of a screaming blonde girl and I remember the way I photographed it. I got a sheet of glass, I laid the head of the girl on the glass, and spread the hair until it filled the frame, and underneath the glass, lit it from behind. And then I cut from the big head to an electric sign, which was advertising a musical play.
Police, crowd, reporter, notebook, reporter to telephone. Hitchcock continued in the same way to chart the progress of four more sequences, until the main character finally came into the story fifteen minutes after the film began ht2.
In the book, the first part is similar, except that ''1'' was changed to "we" and 'big head" which Hitchcock used repeatedly instead of "close-up" was changed to "head. The girl has drowned. She's hauled out of the water and pulled ashore.
The consternation of the bystanders suggests that a murder has been committed. The police arrive on the scene, and then the press. The camera follows one of the newsmen as he moves toward a telephone" It's odd that Truffaut wasn't more interested in conveying the visual manner in which Hitchcock framed his responses, like a series of images that, as he said and that is omitted from the book , didn't need "titles" to explain them.
The photographs that Truffaut included in the book go a long way toward making the argument for Hitchcock as a visual director, but the combination of his verbal means of expression along with the images would have been much more powerful. Hitchcock had been interested in sound at least since Blackmail.
In the interview, he explained that it had been planned as a silent film, but then he had been asked to prepare the last reel with sound so that it could be advertised as a part-talking film, given the novelty and box-office importance of dialogue in Hitchcock decided to do more than that: he would re-shoot the entire film with sound.
Hitchcock was trying to move ahead with his own ideas about filmmaking by using sound psycho- logically, focalized through one character, Alice Anny Ondra. She had stabbed a man to death with a knife the night before to escape being raped. A neighbor came in when the family was at the breakfast table and couldn't stop talking about the murder. She wouldn't have used a knife. In the interview, this is how Hitchcock made the point about how he tried to use sound experimentally: As her dialogue went on, it became a sound of talk, talk, and the talk became less clear except one word: Knife.
And I played it on the girl's face. Suddenly the voice of the father: "Pass the bread knife, would you please, Alice? And she has to pick up the same knife she's just committed the murder with. But it was a contrast pause to the normal voice coming back. That was the first experim ent with sound.
He had started the discussion of Blackmail by calling it "the next Hitchcock picture," after The Lodger ht3. In the book, this reads: And the talk goes on and on, becoming a confusion of vague noises to which the girl no longer listens. Except for the one word, 'Knife, knife: which is said over and over again and becomes fainter and fainter. Here, his choice of camera position - "I played it on the girl's face, " one of his big points - was deleted.
Here, she "no longer listens," but Hitchcock's idea was more important than that: she can't listen, because she has no control over this focalization of sound. It has been rendered, precisely, subjective, subject to her state of mind. That one had been left at the crime scene. The more important idea, for Hitchcock, now speaking from Alice's perspective, was that it might as well be the same knife. There is no mistaking his meaning. When he came to Young and Innocent , Hitchcock enthusiastically described - as if reliving the scenes - how he orchestrated the narrative by manipulating point of view and giving the audience information that the characters didn't have.
For him, this last part was another step forward in his goal of involving the audience in figuring out how the dilemma would be resolved ht7. Unfortunately, this is an excellent example of how Hitchcock's train of thought got lost in the copyedit- ing, even though a long redacted extract was included in the book.
The interview and the book are relatively close at the beginning of Hitchcock's example 15, ht7. A young girl is searching for the murderer. The only person who can recognize him is a tramp who knows that his eyes blink. The tramp observes that it is ridiculous for them to try to fmd those eyes in the crowd. His statement triggers one of Hitchcock's most elaborate camera movements, one that took two days to achieve: starting high above the hotel lounge, the camera advances through the crowd to the performers in a band, in blackface, to a close-up of the drummer until his eyes fill the screen.
Then the eyes twitch, and Hitchcock returns the camera to the girl and the tramp. Here is how he continued, in the interview, to make the point that to him was the most important: NOW the audience had the information. NOW the question was: how is this girl and this old boy going to discover the man?
NOW came a progress of the police. A policeman sees the girl, goes on the phone and tells her father, who is the head of the police. The band breaks up for a smoke.
They go back to the toilet-cabinet- w here [ J the drummer strolls into the alleyway and there he sees Lost in Translation? Listening to the Hitchcock-Truffaut Interview at the far end approaching a group of three men, two in uniform and one not. He ducks back, he's guilty. Ducks back in the doorway and the band resumes. NOW the nervous drummer sees [at] the other end of the ballroom the policeman who is keeping his eye on the young girl. NOW the drummer sees the father, who's in civil- ian clothes, with the two uniformed men, move round back into conversation with the other watching policemen.
Of course, it's all about the little girl, but the drum- mer doesn't know this, he thinks they're for him. NOW his nervousness is reflected in the drum beat. The orches- tra's being thrown out of time, of rhythm.
And he gets worse and worse. A policeman outside sees the girl, who is the daughter of his chief. He goes to the phone. Meanwhile, the band has stopped for a break, and the drummer, having a smoke outside in the alley, sees a group of police hurrying toward the rear entrance of the hotel.
Since he's guilty, he quickly ducks back inside, to the bandstand, where the music resumes. Now the jittery drummer sees the policemen talking to the tramp and the girl at the other end of the ballroom. He thinks they're looking for him, and his nervousness is reflected in the drumbeat, which is out of tune with the rest of the band. The rhythm gets worse and worse. Certain categories of information seem to have been omitted from the published interview for reasons over and above the need to keep the page count down or omit Hitchcock's slighdy off-color jokes and descriptions of individuals that might offend them or even prove libelous.
Information was dropped that would be considered pre- cious today, particularly by film historians: explanations of technique were gready limited compared to the original, references to television and the film industry as such, including observations about people who were not necessarily well-known and what they did, as Hitchcock remembered this or that film or phase of his career.
When it came to unusual mms that Truffaut understandably had not seen although he did try to see them later , such as the two propaganda films Hitchcock made in England to contribute to the war effort Bon Voyage and Aventure Malgache - Truffaut might have seen Bon Voyage as a boy , his descriptions were condensed to such an extent as to misstate or eliminate much that would be of great interest today.
Jean Renoir's A Salute to France was part of the same group as Hitchcock's, short semi-fictional mms created for the French populace at the time of the Allied invasion of northern France to show them that the Allies respected them and that they were working with the French Resistance for the liberation of the country. Like everything else in the interview, this passage is full of interest - both for what was said and for clues that point toward other avenues that could not have been developed at length at that time or accommodated within the limitations of either the interview or the book.
In conclusion, lest my undertaking be misunderstood, my analysis of some passages showing the differences between Hitchcock's statements during the inter- view and as published amount to an homage to the enterprise of creating this resource and to its contemporary usefulness, a tribute to the efforts of Hitchcock, Truffaut, Helen Scott, and everyone else who worked so hard to record, edit, pub- lish and save the original documentation and make it available to researchers.
The book in its entirety - Truffaut's introduction, the main discussion, the photographs, and the filmography, as well as the chapter Truffaut wrote after Hitchcock died for a "definitive version" - fulfilled Truffaut's intended purpose beautifully. Together, Truffaut and Hitchcock demonstrated the undeniable importance of Hitchcock's body of work and showed how it integrated mise-en-scene, narrative structure, film technique, emotion, and psychology. The book has never stopped sparking interest in studying films and in making films.
Now, almost fifty years later, shouldn't it be possible to reproduce the entire interview exactly as it was spoken - English, French, translations back and forth, exchanges in between languages, a full written transcript accompanied by a CD or audio files? Truffaut stated in his introduction that the interview was fifty hours long. The complete set of tapes from the original interview at the Herrick Library is nearly twenty-six hours long.
Perhaps Truffaut added the time from the second interview or time he might have spent in discussions over the years. In the sum- mer of , as part of the Hitchcock centennial celebrations, a selection of eleven hours and fifteen minutes was broadcast on the French radio station France Culture.
Those programs are readily available on the internet as mp3 files. I chal- lenge anyone to listen and not become thoroughly intrigued by the impression of presence when hearing the intonation of those voices and realizing the difference it makes compared to reading a transcript, even if the transcript were entirely faith- ful to the original.
This is a project for a team of Hitchcock workers who could provide reliable annotations, as has been the practice for comparably significant critical editions of literary works.
Notes All translations are my own unless otherwise indicated. Occasionally I have modified a published translation. Listening to the Hitchcock-Truffaut Interview 1. The programs are available at a number of internet sites in twenty-five MP3 flies. I have identified quotations using these flie numbers e.
My study was based on the full set of tapes available at the Herrick. I do not know whether recordings of the second interview, on Marnie and Torn Curtain, were preserved, nor do I know whether the first manuscript that Hitchcock returned to Truffaut with his annotations still exists. In my quotations from the mp3 flies, I have used italics and capital letters and indicated pauses in order to capture the tone and rhythm of the conversation.
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Summary Apart from the scholastic uses, Truffaut's massive book of interviews with Alfred Hitchcock is a Truffaut work through and through. Citing Literature Number of times cited according to CrossRef: Related Information.
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