Thursday, February 12, 2009

1964 Hitchcock Interview

This is a classic Hitchcock interview (pointed out to me by Crumbs. Thanks so much!). In particular I loved the question and answer below. The vulgarians of Hollywood! Hehehe

When you talk about putting bits of film together and then creating, in terms of what you call “pure cinema”, the sequence that you’re going for, I can imagine that it must have a bit of a shock to you personally when “talkies” came?

Well, the only thing wrong with the silent picture was that mouths opened and no sound came out. Unfortunately, when talk came in, the vulgarians -- the money-changers of the industry – immediately commenced to cash in by photographing stage plays. So, that took the whole thing away from cinema completely.

It’s like a lot of films one sees today, not that I see very many, but to me they are what I call “photographs of people talking”. It bears no relation to the art of the cinema, and the point is that the power of the cinema, in its purest form, is so vast because it can go over the whole world. On a given night a film can play in Tokyo, West Berlin, London, New York, and the same audience is responding emotionally to the same things.

No other medium can do this – the theatre doesn’t do it, because you’ve got different sets of people... but remember, in a film, they’re the same actors. A book is translated – how well do we know, I don’t know. The risk is, in translating even a film – what they call “dubbing”, you know – is that there’s liable to be a loss, and therefore, when one’s thinking of a film globally, the talk is reduced to a minimum. And, if possible, tell the story visually, and let the talk be part of the atmosphere.


ScreenScriber said...

It might sound surprising, but once in a while a gem appears that comes back to this true spirit of cinema.

Funny enough, the film I'm refering to is almost a silent one: you guessed, it's Wall-E.

Also, check out Murnau's works for inspiration on what's really great cinema. "Sunrise" is still so powerful!

Crumbs said...

I'd add Kieslowski, ScreenScriber. I'm usually puzzled by whatever he's doing when I'm watching it, and it always hits me subconsciously later on and I suddenly feel drained, with the exception of the Sixth Decalogue. I had a panic attack halfway through that, because of how powerful it was.

(And it's my pleasure, MM!)

ScreenScriber said...

True, mr. Crumbs!

Kieslowski was such a great cinematographer. Let me add some more: Buñuel (Viridiana), Aki Kaurismaki (Drifting Clouds), Víctor Erice (The Spirit of the Beehive), of course Bergman (he Seventh Seal) and even Theo Angelopoulos (Eternity and a Day).

This is pretty hardcore-auteur stuff, though. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it seems that few recent directors have achieved both audience and critical success while trying to go back to the roots of cinematography.

Hitch made it, but I find it hard to spot this kind of directors in mainstream cinema today.

Any ideas?

Dan Auiler said...

This post and the next on Kaleidoscope make for interesting reading or re-reading, so to speak--

Dan Auiler

Crumbs said...

ScreenScriber --

I was thinking more along the lines of "Visual storytelling" than cinematography, but films with great cinematography I've seen lately...

- I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK
- Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
- Let the Right One In
- Control (2007 movie)

There's loads more, of course. Almost every major "Oscar-worthy" picture has great cinematography.o

Mystery Man said...

Salva & Crumbs - I love Kieslowski, as you guys know well, I'm sure, and my favorite article (and perhaps least read) from last year was the one on Kieslwoski’s Blue. I've been itching to watch that again.

Dan - so very nice to meet you!


Dan Auiler said...

Kieslowski is one of my favorite's as well, and in fact, it was while researching Hitchcock's Notebooks at the BFI, that I experienced the trilogy for the first time. The screenings were on three consecutive evenings at the NFT--the final moment's of Red being one of those overwhelming moments that I've only a experienced a few times in a cinema. I get goose bumps thinking of that evening--the only other films that had such an impact on first screenings were Gance's Napolean, Murnau's Sunrise and his Last Laugh and van Trier's Dancer in the Dark.

Mystery Man said...

Dan - I likewise watched the colors trilogy over three consecutive nights (thanks to NetFlix). I was floored by "Blue." "White" tested my patience, and Red was electric. I loved it.


11 said...


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