A Conversation with Alfred Hitchcock
In 1964, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation filmed a two-part interview with Alfred Hitchcock that covers lots of ground with topics ranging from the technical aspects of making a movie, the nature of art, reflections on his favorite films, and the philosophies of storytelling. I’ve included both parts here for viewing.
I especially enjoyed his thoughts early in part one on the idea of art as experience:
Please don’t think me presumptuous if I use say the analogy of a painter who paints a tree, a landscape, or even a bowl of fruit. I’m sure the painter is not a bit interested in the apples for themselves alone. But, in the technique of his work, which stimulates the emotion of viewer of his picture. After all, all art is experience. people look at an abstract and say “I hate it.” The mere fact that they use the word “hate” shows they are going through an experience…It’s not the pure manner of the content—it’s not the story—it’s what you do with it. I find that with many people look at the a film and look at its content only and never seem to study—I’m talking about the critical faculty—what was in the film to make an audience to go through these emotions in the film, especially in my field which is thrill or suspense or what-have-you.
And he closes with his definition of happiness, which is about as good a definition as I’ve ever seen:
A clear horizon. Nothing to worry about on your plate. Only things that are creative and not destructive. Within yourself—within me—I can’t bare quarreling. I can’t bare ill-feelings between people. I think hated is wasted energy. And it’s all non-productive. Some very sensitive, a sharp word, said by, say, a person with a temper—if they are close to me—hurts me for days. I know we are only human, we do go into these various emotions—call these negative emotions—but when all these are removed and you can look forward and the road is clear ahead and now you are going to create something, I think that is as happy as I am going to be.
I really like how Hitchcock speaks—slow and methodical—as if he is carefully choosing every single word. It becomes very obvious that he is a very articulate man and one who has thought very deeply and is extremely passionate about his craft. The entire interview is just under an hour and worth watching if you are interested in Hitchcock’s movies, filmmaking, and the creative process.