July 21, 2013

Watch: Alfred Hitchcock Talks About His Career and Directing Audiences in This 1972 Interview

Whenever Alfred Hitchcock chose to communicate publicly with the outside world, whether through interviews, books, or some other means of mass media, people tended to listen. And not just back then, but now. Hitchcock is still such a pervasive voice in cinema that his words and insight still teach generations of young filmmakers, even after over 30 years since his departure. Check out this video of Alfred Hitchcock being interviewed about a selection of his works, his frustration with method actors, and how he dealt with his celebrity.

Hitchcock is a master of cinema. He understood pacing and tension like none before or after him, and did it all with the dark humor one could only expect from the beloved director. Books have been written about him. Classes have been centered around him. Everybody and their mother knows who Hitchcock was, and in the interview below, we see a side of Hitchcock often missed in the long texts about his work or the biopic documentaries about his life -- we  get to see him relaxed and simply chatting about his films and filmmaking in general.

There is so much to learn from this interview alone. First of all, Hitchcock was asked great questions by both interviewers (one of which was Pia Lindström, Ingrid Bergman's daughter,) which he responded to with great candor and humor.

One point that I found interesting was when Hitchcock was asked how he distinguished the moment in which he stopped considering himself an amateur filmmaker and started considering himself a professional. He says:

I think actually the difference would be that in the original Man Who Knew Too Much, I wasn't audience conscious, whereas in the 2nd one I was.

This idea of "audience consciousness", Hitchcock describes, is a realization he had that helped him develop one of the techniques he was famous for: directing the audience rather than his actors.

He talks about how in his film The Lady Vanishesthe glass of drugged wine is a prime example of this. Instead of directing his actors in such a way to inspire dread or tension, either through dialog or character interactions, Hitchcock focuses on the glass to keep the audience reminded of the danger. This, essentially, was Hitchcock directing his audience.

What do you think? Did you learn anything from the Hitchcock interview? What's your favorite Hitchcock film? Let us know in the comments.

Link: Video Interview: Alfred Hitchcock -- Go Into the Story

Your Comment

9 Comments

It's cliche, but he's one of if not the best director to live. Such a talent.

July 21, 2013

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Brock

If there's any director you should learn from, it's Hitchcock.

July 21, 2013

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Jake

Hitchcock always reminds me that it's important to think of the audience when filming a movie.
One of my favorite Hitchcock films is Rope, it's famous for having only 4 cuts or so.

July 21, 2013

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Can't say I'm a fan of his films, but I've learned a lot from him!

July 21, 2013

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Hampus

I can't understand the second interviewers obsession with Number Seventeen. It's such a mess of a film. Great to see Hitchcock being so candid and informative. Although, I prefer the 1934 Man Who Knew Too Much (despite Peter Lorre's insufferable hamminess) to the '56 version I think I can kind of see what he means by being more audience conscious later in his career.

July 21, 2013

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Mak

Man, he's a badass.

July 21, 2013

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Micah Van Hove
Writer
writer, director, dp

I'm not a big fan of his color-films but yeah. He's damned good on a purely technical standpoint. But I think his distaste in the production part. Even going so far as to note that he only gets 60 % of what he wanted. Shows that what a lot of his films lack is a sense of spontaneity. Building brand new moments on set that would cover those 40% that he complains about loosing. A huge difference from someone like Kubrick, who also made meticulously planned out pictures. But the big K refused to leave a set before he had exhausted literally every good idea that could come up in that set. Hitchcock would instead just film what was on the storyboard and literally only that. There's even stories about how he would wave his hand in front of the camera mid-line to make sure that a sequence could only be cut in one way.

What I'm getting at is that he made some great films, but I feel he was often, let's call it: "to full of himself". The picture could never be as good as the blueprint he worked from. The blueprint he made and approved. And no one could alter that fact. Damn shame, since I think the truly great directors are more likely to seize the ideas that makes the films better no matter when in the process they show up.

And it's funny that the interviewer, in the very end, brings up that film-students in their first year makes movies that look like Bergman and in their last year they look like Hitchcock films. Because, on the whole, I prefer more of the Bergman films that I've seen than Hitchcock's outings.

Again. I just think that if he had just come down from his pedestal for a moment, he would have produced even greater work. Instead of just lamenting over the greatness lost from his precious storyboard.

July 28, 2013

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We are deprived of a Hitchcock mumblecore movie. The world is thereby diminished.

July 31, 2013

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jfilmington

more such master classes...learnt lots and a lot to learn.

September 23, 2013

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luvley gupta