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When Alfred Hitchcock shared his secrets with François Truffaut

hitchcock truffautLegendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock was notoriously tight-lipped about his process. Rarely was he willing to speak in-depth about his process, his ideas or what drove his filmmaking. Yet, in 1962, he sat down with François Truffaut, another legendary filmmaker, to discuss his process. The result was a book that anyone who loves film NEEDS to own: “Hitchcock/Truffaut” which is the transcript of that conversation.

By ’62, Hitchcock had already shot most of his masterpieces, including “Psycho” (1960), “Vertigo” (1958), “North By Northwest” (1959), “Rear Window” (1954) and many, many others. At the time, he was at work on “The Birds” (1963).

François Truffaut was the leading voice of French New Wave Cinema. His best-known series of films follow a young man, loosely-based on Truffaut’s own life, named Antoine Doinel. The first of these films, “The 400 Blows” (1959) is considered one of the greatest New Wave films.

The interviews took place over several days, and were an arduous process. Truffaut spoke in French, through an interpreter. Hitch responded in English, which also required translation. The resulting book does a good job of minimizing the translation process, and what results is a very readable discussion of Hitchcock’s films and process. If you haven’t read this masterpiece, grab a copy today.

For the real film nerd, however, the original audio recordings offer even more. Check out this post from slashfilm.com that provides 12 hours of the original audio. Download this .zip file and listen, it’s an amazing experience that is very different than reading the book.

This wonderful bit of film history has been given a new focus in 2015 with the release of the documentary “Hitchcock/Truffaut” by director Kent Jones (a well-known film critic). This documentary pulls from the original recordings, plus Hitchcock and Truffaut’s own work, as well as commentary by modern filmmakers and critics. If you don’t want to read the whole book or spend 12 hours with the audio, this documentary promises to be a great, in-depth look at a moment when two legendary filmmakers sat down to talk about their craft.