Victoria : A Film Review

Picture this

This is a film of stealth and realtime cinematic vision.  In 134 minutes is is all over.  In one take.

It is audacious, gripping, filmicly sublime, brilliantly played and as a tale of modern Europe with ever increasing racial conflict it endeavours to put the nastiness of real time, day time life in a far of place while these young people try to make their way in the world. The dark night escapism becomes a severe challenging uncompromising confrontation with choice which are not your everyday ones. There is even a love story developing here.
Sometimes a really unusual film surfaces and has you gripped from start to finish. Victoria is one such film. Gripping, engrossing, emotionally engagin, it is a thrilling provocative study of fragility and choices determined through minutest detail how a life can be transformed in an instant.
The film was shot in one single long take by Sturla Brandth Grøvlen from about 4:30 AM to 7:00 AM on 27 April 2014 in the Kreuzberg and Mitte neighborhoods.

Victoria herself is as you might imagine the one character we can all relate to.  Played brilliantly by Laia Costa who looks a bit like a petite Darcy Bussell, (not strictly!) takes us on an odyssey within her life in Berlin as an incomer. The remaining key players are as follows –  Sonne (Frederick Lau) and his friends Fuss (Max Mauff), Boxer (Franz Rogowski), and Blinker (Burak Yigit) the guys she lets into her enclosed world. Director Sebastian Schipper (Actor, Run Lola Run, The English Patient)and the team apparently had four goes at making it until this final finished glorious outcome.  Perseverance is the shtick best describing all the efforts to bring it to this result.  Like an on stage play it contains some flaws but they actually heighten the gravity and suspenseful journey.

Strobe lighting aside, music durable techno, the vibe of a night out is the early morning setting for the portrayal of a lone traveller, Victoria from Madrid who is testing Berlin and herself to find a place in life; she has been there three months finding out what makes her tick and exposes her vulnerabilities as well as hitherto unknown strengths.  It emphasises as unfamiliar cities – tried by many before her – test her metal and flexibility of sociability and protection and safety, well being. Survival at the heart of existence.
We first see her as a night clubber pulsating vibe like any dungeon cavernous club.  She draws us into the fantasy suspension experimental escapism of music played in the commune of a Nightclub.  The location becomes secondary, it is a space of suspension of beliefs, literally a dry ice whiteout, and introduces us to the key players taking us on this onward non stop journey we are to be absorbed into from four o’clock onwards – in a time when most of the near humanity is asleep undercurrent adventure, skirting the law takes place.  The film unfolds at a pace which almost makes you believe, and react as though you are part of the group – in one take – taking place in 22 locations and introducing the night normality of entertainment in Berlin’s Mitte district and Kreuzberg. The latter apparently a ‘well off’ district.
Berlin Night and Shade
Sebastian Schipper.
The camera is firstly used extensively for head shots of Victoria and held shoulder height.  If they go up some steps it rises as you eye would. If it looks down on someone sitting, likewise. Quite steady and replicating a persons movement, without a sign of unsteadiness in any viewpoint.  When she sees some guys who she indirectly saw and briefly spoke to one, messing around drunkenly around a car a conversation develops and her bike (there are a lot of bikes chained up and resting in Berlins Mitte district!) forms a link as the guys show their balance and skills.  
Sturla Brandth Grvlen Cinematographer Cameraman.
Here the language barriers cross with they as Berliners, some speaking German only, and her able to converse with principally one, Sonne looking like a young Brando who has a good command of English.  This presents an opportunity to develop the tensions even further as Victoria is discussed in their native tongue while she takes risks and engages more testing herself and her loneliness outside a comfort zone. The guys have odd names, Fuss, Boxer, Blinka, Sonne. In one line Sonne tells Victoria and us what it’s about. “I’ll show you our world.”  It is both generous and dangerous.  Just like life. There are simple elements actually calling the story narrative as an ultra state love story.  It can be accepted on several levels such is the mastery involved in the whole films development.  One view was expressed to me that development was both present and absent.  That is, it was seen in unconventional form. 

Victoria has to initially make choices about shut eye for the short time to her breakfast stint as a part-time waitress so her expectations never raise the bar much and she tries to slope away for a few hours shut eye but instead becomes embroiled in the group who are shifting their feet, sans music, on the pavement outside. Here she makes a decision bringing into the story the Cafe in Mitte where she works. I wrote down the name of the cafe which I presume is just a made up name. It was hand written elegantly in ‘whitewash’ on the windows of this end of block, prominent cafe, Wilhelm + Medne, allegedly an organic coffee house. The locations lit in the stark contrasts of night also add dramatic intensity and soon an intimacy is turned on.  It is where the story then in a non linear way kicks off, astride the clubgoers and the district. All is to happen around this tightly woven scenic, atmospheric district which director Sebastian Schipper must have scouted painstakingly with cameraman and art director, for weeks and months to cut it into plan which has no outakes or reshooting.
Method and miracle

The camera work is paramount to pulling this off as a story and it is achieved brilliantly by the reci, the planning, the knowing the form the story is to take by all the actors. When some are playing various levels of drunkeness and spaced out joint induced; one who is left behind, itself a cause of a major problem dragging Victoria deeper into their world is followed meticulously by all.   It is bravado and the pre-scripted elements allowing improvisation make for an intensely real construct. In each location the finite explorations of character are exhumed.  Dead to the daytime world they are in darkness and they bond. Even further on the bond becomes virtually unbreakable and sears at your own emotional connections with them.  It is brutal in parts, soft and gentle, warm and tender in others.  Far from the wearisome prospect of this, what some reviewers idiotically call a stunt, form it gives the viewer their shocks, surprises, preconceptions right in their lap and their heart.  As with the drugs partly a cause of their unwise moves at times, it projects highs, heightened, lows, lower than imagined which you will all see breathtakingly bold and as real as might be possible given we are looking at a cinema wall.  Somehow the fourth wall is enveloped.  
It is through the ballet of the camera the above is achieved. I thought of Dancer in the Dark, with Bjork and its outdoor musical feel intensified by situation.  I listened to the studious; there is one gorgeous defining piece inset at the cafe which is beautiful and essential as story element. There are sound sculptures with crossover, flipped silences, with tip tap, windscreen sounding type beats either real or added providing the dilemma for the viewer to ask themselves is it real or is it imagined. In every sense this construct is utilised to embed the story in your emotional reactions.  Both handsome and not so pretty.  As I noted early we are the third person in the frame. The actors using improvisation when the story is not focusing on a very tight set of actions provide you with loose reality though director Sebastian Schipper’s vision.
Reminiscent of Ordet but shot in one day it is a homage of a kind to the masterful filmaking of Carl Theodor Dreyer whose 114 takes of around seven minutes each were groundbreaking in Cinematic realisation.  Made over four months he would have one take each day limiting movement, lighting, condensing the surreal visionary themes developed prior to filming. 
Belief of a visionary
Ordet – Carl Theodore Dreyer
“I believe that long takes represent the film of the future. You must be able to make a film in six, seven, eight shots…Short scenes, quick cuts in my view mark the silent film, but the smooth medium shot — with continual camera movement — belongs to the sound film. “Carl Theodor Dreyer

Instead of making central the minimum of shots, Carl Theodor Dreyer played on the objects within the frame, editing them out, though not as a visual pedant seeking immateriality. He focuses alternatively the viewers eyes on the meaningfulness of the ‘words’ essentially materialized by the scenes and facial expressions he wishes us to unite.  He does not remove every straw frowqm the barn where the pigs lie – inadvertently or not – for the sake of ruining a take?! – he leaves the pen door open in one where the pigs are then likely to wander off.  It’s priorities and not pedantry which encapsulates this film like no other I have seen or am likely to see.

As a tribute to the film makers going out of their way to offer some additional insights I came across a site with as you can see a title which itself describes our need to engage with creative film making. It is worth reading. Besides the writing is less lumpen than mine. It has an advantage of a one to one with the Director.This film is something of a landmark as far as I am concerned. It is visionary in its treatment and fluidity which pulls you in. Whether it is because you want to be there, (most probably not) as the idea of risk appeals somehow, or you love the looseness and character encounter it is profoundly affecting as a film can be.

Conclusion #####5
An immediate instant seat grabbing enthralling film. It starts off framing close up the escape of Victoria in that place most of us have been. The anonymity of a nightclub with you absorbing, responding to the audio immersion. Learning just recently bass is not heard through your ear but through your skeleton, your flesh then bones, the experience is even more personal, no matter whose around, who your with. This is the description of the cinematic experience as sought by Sebastian Schipper and I would say practically delivered.
We don’t watch films with our brains, and we don’t watch films with our hearts. I think we watch films with our nervous systems. You’re in this river, and whether it’s fast or at times really slow, if we changed rivers, you would feel it.” Sebastian Schipper. Like Carl Theodore Dreyer before, 1955 in fact, the suspension in a film is about many specifics coming together. Story, telling, revealing, knowing, desiring, expecting, loss, imprisonment, conflict resolution and limbo. There are many other things but visually and aurally we have our receptive ‘nervous system’. This film will take yours places I hope. Beneficial and illuminating.

John Graham

28 March 2016


I asked two visitors to Belfast; returning to see the place again after many years for their reaction to the film. We had quite a deep discussion about the various themes and consequences, making and special emotional grab of the film.
These are just a few quotes I pressed out of them which were given graciously and with special meaningful insight.

Christiane. from Berlin.
2+ hours joining real time through a Berlin night – what could you imagine could happen? A whole world of psychology, adrenalinc madness, commitments and a glimpse of life’s craziness.

Malene. Denmark.
Brilliant camera(work) Very convincing acting.
Sitting on the edge of the chair for over two hours.

Opening at Queens Film Theatre from Friday 1 April to 14 April 2016. No perfect storm expected, freaky Friday, April fool etc. it’s not an April fool, 13th is a Thursday, so do not be afraid! April fools are meant to be over by noon!
Actually – expect to be gripped emotionally and enthralled and surprised. I was.
From the soundtrack DJKoze stands out. Nils Frahm never does for me!
No. Title
1. “Burn With Me (Victoria Edit)” DJ Koze 5:18
2. “Our Own Roof” Nils Frahm 5:18
3. “A Stolen Car” Nils Frahm 4:44
4. “In The Parking Garage” Nils Frahm 4:55
5. “Them” Nils Frahm 4:00
6. “The Bank” Nils Frahm 7:18
7. “The Shooting” Nils Frahm 4:50
8. “Nobody Knows Who You Are” Nils Frahm 2:48
9. “Pendulum” Nils Frahm 2:41
10. “Happy New Fear (Bonus track)” Deichkind 2:32
11. “Marilyn Whirlwind (Bonus track)” DJ Koze 7:12

I Am Belfast : A Film Review

Digital Belfast

You couldn’t make it up, people often say about this place.  Glenn Patterson says much the same thing in his soon to be a movie, Book on DeLorean, Gull.  Circumpspecticion of a different kind than this film by Mark Cousins now, though a frequent visitor, a bit of an outsider and holds memory differently than those who live here. When I returned I noticed some things that a normal citizen (in the broadest sense of the analogy you understands!)would overlook or take as axiomatic. So it is with a insight brought in a filmmakers eye Mark Cousins enters Belfasts personality. It is the personality he seeks as he literally takes a woman ass the embodiment, the device to present and explore the place.

As part of 16th presentations this will feature across Belfast at numerous locations which you can find via. the website itself. The residency is for 10 days at Queens Film Theatre, University Square, is that street in the film? You’ll have to see.  One or two nearby are certainly and what is Belfast without its Uni.

I Am Belfast is a mighty call.  It is the form of magic realism and thoughtfully inventive though constricted by viewpoint and what the director, writer, Mark Cousins signals and the cinematographer Christopher Doyle lights for you in his viewfinder.  Some times it strays tediously towards referencing Hitchcock, transference on a few pigeons on the street, or iceberg like doomladen mountainous hills ape actually a Salt pile for gritting.  Unenclosed.  The barn, or salt depository in East Belfasr, formerly, preceding this store was a almost medieval cathedral like building which is an intricate and simple cone arising from Belfasts skin. Not seen.   It takes a long memory and none is longer than, Helena Bereen the actor portraying the 2000 year old memory of the city in human form.
a photo not from the film
A colorful tapestry
Decorous and sublimely serene with beautiful eyes and swept back silver hair she is a joyful, good mannered, robustly human and carefully cynical form encapsulating, it is hoped the qualities Mark Cousins seeks to convey.  She narrates his script, which is a tad literal in that it relies heavily on the image, the transference thing, Mondrian in Belfast for paint squares and rectangular affected geometries, the type you will find if looking long enough in basically any United Kingdom city.  Our yellow cranes are symbolic but so are red bridges, green clusters of agricultural buildings on outskirts, red buses, green buses, pastel raised terraces over a port, signal red statues and crimson icons.  Steely or otherwise each city is trademarked thus.  The music is from David Holmes who excercises constraint and ditches the Manic Street Preachers, and God knows Belfast has more than its fair share, always has, delivering a touristy feel ambient repeative soundtrack as a Kelly’s in Portrush holiday feel tinkle.  Never funereal or questionable dark and foreboding this predicates a certain style and mood.  
Runty Monaghan and the other half of the art college disappears My photo
It is not intended that we are overcome by joy.  Neither is it manifested we accept this for a definitive documentary of a place in time or even across time.  The heft is ambitious while flawed by its one restrictions.  I see it as a kindly, painterly effort with no radical delving and believe me Belfast is there for the radical delving such are its straight talking devil take he hindmost people.  Social justice and cantankerous phlegmatic views have been elucidated by many, many citizens of Belfast for the Socila good that is put away by plunders and people whose ideals require a lot of scrutiny.  The people selling their grannie to the Mafia etc. The corrupt roping of the complacent and none cemented by the true radicalism espoused by such as Francis Hutcheson. His close proximity to Belfast, Hos capital city is without question and being the most prodigious of philosophers it is our right to claim him, even though he had to go to Glasgow to fulfill that.
Pioneers and Scholars

During his time as a lecturer in Glasgow College he taught and influenced Adam Smith, the economist and philosopher. The order of topics discussed in the economic portion of Hutcheson’s System [of Moral Philosophy, 1755] is repeated by Smith in his Glasgow Lectures and again in the Wealth of Nations.
If Belfast were to be seen as anyway a foundation of learning which I believe it is right to attest it follows its citizens from Henry Montgomery, the attention seeking Cooke, and the conflicting minds has contributed, across the world and needed some recognition in this film other than the arbitrary, it is through such thinkers or betrayer so we need look for Belfast intense integrity.  It has a sha,Ed recent past which has in many senses eclipsed previous ideals and these attributed to Hutcheson. Wiki comes to my aid!  These are some of his more famous quotes.

consciousness, by which each man has a perception of himself and of all that is going on in his own mind (Metaph. Syn. pars i. cap. 2)

the sense of beauty (sometimes called specifically “an internal sense”)

a public sense, or sensus communis, “a determination to be pleased with the happiness of others and to be uneasy at their misery”

the moral sense, or “moral sense of beauty in actions and affections, by which we perceive virtue or vice, in ourselves or others”

a sense of honour, or praise and blame, “which makes the approbation or gratitude of others the necessary occasion of pleasure, and their dislike, condemnation or resentment of injuries done by us the occasion of that uneasy sensation called shame”

a sense of the ridiculous. It is plain, as the author confesses, that there may be “other perceptions, distinct from all these classes,” and, in fact, there seems to be no limit to the number of “senses” in which a psychological division of this kind might result.

It is a moral fabric perhaps every city has too early extent or another.  It’s sense of place which in the mirror it reflects across the world.
Where are we

Those of us born here know straightaway what our limitations are.  There’s that River through. The Lagan.  There’s the tributaries running down its hills and some like the Blackstaff go off on their travels divided ending up discharging into Strangford beyond Dundonald and out yonder at Comber.  Where once there were trains running through.  Our limits are known to us.  The Lagan just a broad important deep channel large enough to send ships to the mercy of the seas beyond the mouth at the end of Lough named after the city.  Broad and flat the select beds reach up the hills.  Cave hill our Napolean.  Dead warrior given his ‘mote’ to Jonathan Swift for Gullivers Travels apparently and were Wolfe Tone took to the Caves his henchmen whose fate was sealed by treachery Int heir midst and a severely idiotic undermanned and insouciance met with reactive violent repression by the cohorts of the occupying state whose ministries ran like a blade the length of Ireland, in the North the hangmen of the day, the Church of Ireland, and in the Southern part the same with a mightier Roman doctrine stifling their cohort.  On the sleech homes were built.  On the hills. Mills. Factories. In the Harbour ships, flying aero planes, in the port handling sheds.  The Cavehill to the North sweeps round West and forms a bowl disallowing building homes except for a landed few on the steep slopes. Confinement ultimately a downfall.  
Rendering by the nomad

The film renders no topographical sense of place, no genus loci.  It is bereft of vision and eve with a raw past Belfast does do, does do nostalgia.  Softly Softly sings Ruby Murray over a cloudscape and direct plane view of the island beneath.  It’s not a satellite view so no sense of two joined tectonic plates, no rudimentary paleontology or archeology for that is the dictator of Belfast just as the Himalaya’s create the people of Tibet, the Serengeti produces the  Tanzanian sultans and practices of kinship.  “Here we are, caught up in this big ripple, Tinseltown in the rain“, (Paul Buchanan) except it is only its fore bearer.  The place left to spread the American Dream.







Conclusion ### more to come

 – I had an interuppted insight as did several others and intend to complete this incomplete review – how will it end !!!!! – reviewers are not supposed to give away the ending but post a flavor and hopefully some insightful guidance to steer your own visions of the material, for what it’s worth.  Cinema changes and has intentional many different views to be absorbed.  Go lightly with your tone and candor then I hope and this is an excellent piece though unsurprisingly is short on detail and is not a serialism do documentary of which several may emerge over time.

See for screening details.
At QFT from Friday 8 April through to Thursday 14 April 2016.

I will revisit this blog and review with a view to updating it soon!

John Graham

23 March 2016


Anomalisa : A Film Review

Polystyrene People

First to point out is the form of this film being stop motion animation as it will appeal to fewer filmgoers than is ordinarily the case.  I have a complete disregard of any stop motion animation which is not used as an art form and has in its conquest mere figurative artifice or narrative.  Neither extentialist, some claim it is, nor surrealist, some claim it is, it is a far cry from earlier accomplishments of Charlie Kaufmann, this films writer and co-director, such as Adaption (2003) and the existential and surreal Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004).  Being more than a decade on it is reasonable to assume some levity and self awareness has crept into his film making.  An extension of that mindfulness perhaps but instead we are treated to a narrative containing a hapless middle-aged man whose guru status as a ‘life-coach’ in the marketing world nails gravitas to the floor with sponges.  It is all too ethereal handing over the reins to a stop motion photographer.
We are stuck with objects. It would be entirely unjust to call them characters, whose body texture is of polystyrene cups, whose eyes are innate marbles, dressed in celluloid friendly woolen waxy clothing and dry as dust hair and bodies with the proportions of a stubbed out cigarette butt.  Memorably I have seen stop motion in an awesome form (See end credits) and the difference is these characteristics I’ve described are there, transitional and precious in their beauty when conceived as the vehicle of a piece of brilliant thinking accompanying and delivered through conceptual originality. Here it is puerile and without ANY beauty.
I’m a stranger here myself

Here we have a middle aged man fly in, touchdown, literally, in Cinncinati to attend one of his pleasurable talks on the ideal of customer marketing. Michael played by the artistically compromised David Thewlis who I last saw on a beach in Macbeth, gives it his best moronic nasal drawl throughout.  He conveys the disempowered human face of Michael whose professional acclaim is at odds with ‘real’ life.  Conscious as he is of his, and I presume this is integral to the story and concept of the film, we are to consider the juxtaposition of work and life and our endeavors to make each fulfilling.

From touchdown at the airport, we are treated to a banality which will follow in streams, almost tears, over the next long period of viewing this drab morass and some colour invective is introduced with some witty acerbic dialogue to make us wince even further.  The one liners are predictable as coteries of verbal pack hounds licking the pastry of the films desserts.  The tangibility is there but is thin as the watery appearance of the film.  It is nihilism resplendent in Michael, an aboration as invective is portrayed on almost everyone who is not Michael.
I love airports simply because of the promenade which allows you to become not a different self as a flânuer (Mr Whtes book of the same name is recalled) but to see the human race in its diversity in so far as those who can afford to fly, and if chosen you could change destinations with anyone and visit an entirely different world and probably dissolved set of rules as the person observed with a consequence of seeing a new world occupied by immense diversity. It is momentary but not in Michaels case a rejection, an abnegation on the whole of humanity.
Taken for a ride

From a short ride with a ubiquitous talking taxi driver and one whose ill kept rage is also dishonestly contempted by the author for his gain, to the hotel lobby of Hotel Frogila or Hotel Spendido and not in this Eater Rising period the Hotel Frongoch (the British prison in which rebels were held ; for more realism than Gerry Adams pitiful account on Frongoch and ‘attachment’ to a desperate cause – about 14 ringleaders were killed in the rising and the rest interned for a long period at a time of war when a generation of Irishmen died subsequently at the Somme alongside each other ; we can appraise Hotel Frongoch astutely in ‘Frongoch – the Boiling Pot‘ by Lyn Ebenezer more robustly and eloquently.) 

For the purposes of containment to a film review I have disposed a more interesting critique concerning the rising to the foot of the page and gone all ‘John’ Corwell with it.  JdeC to most.

Michael is about the same in this Hotel as he descends even further into self pity and disintegration mentally as he looses connection in this anonymous ‘hole’ ever semblance of bearing in his life.  His almost but not estranged wife is called on the dial out and his son summoned to the phone with more self cynisism portrayed.  Relentlessly the polystyrene figurines are given thankless roles more driven down in their lack of humanity, except in the authors version of cynical occupants of the world, by voicing women with male voices and with some flex urge given to one of the two women Michael is to encounter at his Hotel.  With his popinjay in mind, or with his pecker making the choice for him he hoists his stand up parrot into the story in a remiss kind of way.  He makes a call out and a call in with opposite results. 

Girls just 

Into the narrative comes a robust diliance constructed out of absurdity and as a vehicle for Michael to get the parrot to shut up.  Lisa who is not the Mona Lisa but for the stories purposes an unconfident adrift young woman ravaged by self doubt and a follower of gurus.  In its orbit is an achievement for Jennifer Jason Liegh to give some uplift to a materially inept scenario through her vocalisation.  She Jennifer portrays the vulnerability which self sacrificing Lisa allows to unfold before Michael whose love is transference of the worst around and is in his mentally fragile place the answer he has ‘been seeking all his life’.  It is a mutual misapprehension which for a moment assuages the pairs real lives.  The song made famous by Cyndi Lauper and covered by many and available in numerous versions by the girl herself features as a sobriquet solemn, soliloquy as a high mass between the by now inebriated souls at sway in bed. A liquorice sweetener and of choice rendition.

It lasts for a brief period and is quickly rounded of with a cigarette and more self coiling. There is a dream sequence which plays on fears in case we didn’t get the gravity of Michaels derangement and his dissatisfaction with the world.  We get therefore the two central trysts in the Hotel, several recipes for cocktails, a nice hotel room service breakfast, a conference display which is less than a success unsurprisingly a homecoming and a minesweeping finale which I’ve forgotten.  
Conclusion ##2
A reality can also reach.
Enjoyable as a discursive journey round cinematic endeavors but otherwise unconvincing and without any insightful new or beauty. The human condition is explored as an individual believing their isolation is endemic, that their plight is to forage a way through deceitful relations with those who love them and whose own lives are a document to their bewildered lives.  It is fairly relentlessly bleakly coruscating with added humour but as a cinematic tale it labours and its mediatative moments are at once bliss and cant. It is a form of artlessness and it may work for you if you suspend the imposition of a stew of polystyrene confection for a dose of garrulous speech making.  It is probably in the nature of public speakers to be given to prolixity so it is given out in a large dose.

John Graham

17 March 2016


Stop motion supreme animation exists!

If you wish to see the memorable stop motion that I love so much it is to be found at the Saatchi Gallery Art Forum.
It is by local artist Jennifer Kidd.   Timewaster.

AHer other stop motion works explore identity and self worth and value.  They convey in their brief time in disproportionate volume much more than the above reviewed film could in my mind.  So much is left for the viewer but the difference here is it is there to be found.

History is a revisitation

History requires us to decline political rhetoric even when and more so when it’s foisted by the idiocy of self ‘proclaimed’ malfunctioning due to mostly birth placement. (an unpleasant diversified childhood – this will bear me out in time – when science makes a more tangible link) Rebels. RD-E finds the same crop up in her book.

Why listen? Anglicised engrandisment surfaces.

Ruth Dudley-Edwards has just had published a prescient study of that historical time which is worth reading. Another aside the intolerable GM avoids is the industrial one. The 1913 workers strike wherein McDonagh and Kettle born circa 1880; I often go on tangents, forgive me, when a storyline prompts it regardless! These men, academicians both allies in the formed Irish volunteers set up to counter the Ulster volunteers whose aversion to the Home Rule Churchill had driven placed them in splendid isolation and paradoxically in ‘Union’. Nothing like belonging to a club that would rather not have you. The only strategic link being to keep out Pseudo communism and ‘German ‘ influence. By heck they have it today in spades except it is dictorial now. From monarchy to market. While Kettle set out to find guns and instead encountered the German Imperialism and Militarism in Belguim he reacted by joining forces to defeat them and survived the Somme.  McDonagh formed a radicalised view of a sense of Ireland markedly different in those times.  He sort of formed a rebel clique and ‘fought’ the Dublin Jewish biscuit factory with kutschpa and the fate was sealed. He was one of the few ‘Rebels’ killed as the British confined their approprium at a time they were facing a greater war and more world shifting upsurge and central governance shift threatening to topple their own self-interests.  
Once upon a time in Ireland.  Role players turn up.  RD-E writes this splendidly as a cause that was not going to happen anytime soon.  Easter or not. Biblical apocalypse beckoned. 

Of the words written by Kettle and McDonogh those selected recently in print by Daniel Mulhall truncating a tale of his views on the pair by summoning endings in that powerful Irish trope of a medium, poetry, as both wrote out to their families and separately obviously in this form eloquently what lay inside their heads connected to their hearts.

Kettle to his daughter days before his death.


“Know that we fools, now with the foolish dead,

Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor, –

But for a dream, born in a herdsman’s shed,

And for the secret Scripture of the poor.”
McDonagh also to his daughter wrote 


“In Ireland still the mystic rose

Will shine as it of old has shone.”

Like all gone before their time.  Warriors in words first and foremost, their deeds lacking in noblesse yet called redemptive by those who lived, pursued sacrifice for sacrifice sake like today’s misguided suicide bombers who depart having taken a step beyond the sixties, seventies terrorist car bombs and grotesque destruction of fellow nationals by ‘necessary means.

Locally those responsible still chalk up their faceless humanity as having ‘Support’.  Mandated MM etc. 

Hitchcock/Truffaut : A Film Review

Hitchcock/Truffaut. Director Kent Jones.  France/USA. 2015. 1hr 19mins. Cert. 12a.

Spoiler alert : None are needed
For Francois Truffaut finding out the detail of his favorite director techniques and outlook took him to engage with Alfred Hitchcock by writing and convincing him to participate in a week long set of interviews where both would discuss in depth the art of Hitchcock’s own direction but to evaluate the process and event of putting into Cinemas before the public something they had never witnessed.
These master film makers in 1963 combine their knowledge of cinematic practice to convey their individual take on the art with illuminating insightful dialogue and film extracts.  The combination of this dual lecture is like a foundation course in the offer of mise en scéne which is more than just a landscape, portrait, photographic setting of narrative but a vision of the outside – would I be right in describing it as our fifth wall – the dimension of realisation brought through the interior realisation of cinematic ideas.  Beyond novel forms or the singular Cinema protocols of the syntax, the metalanguage used to discuss the final cut which we are sometimes wrapped up in conceited evaluation, comes a dimension that from any outset will be of primary guidance and I don’t mean making money as the first rule of Film making but the heft of creativity.  Fritz Lang never made a great deal of money from his chosen spectacular contribution to the metalanguage and as a pioneer of cinema which absorbed the masses before the digital age took over and instead left a priceless legacy.


Imagine how someone new to Cinema in a culture which has no Cinema or Media history would make of Metropolis.       From the edges of a waterhole say, where a Tribesman watches antelope drink and while waiting for them to depart so he can allow his cattle to drink, he rests with mobile phone in hand and into his eyes come the black and white surreality of that film.  From outside their world is brought a creation of which there is no terms of reference and this curiosity is born.  If it is satiated is another matter.


Before he began Francois Truffaut had produced his opus screenplay narrative of how this particular event would happen.  Through initial agreement he began to construct the syntax of what he intended to uncover as well as taking and dissecting themes within each of Alfred Hitchcock’s films chronologically.  It would interweave at the beginning with the story of and influences derived by Hitchcock whose tastes were Catholic and universal.
Jules et Jim
What we are witnessing in this Kent Jones film is not unlike the scenario I described as I think it is a journey back into the interior of any films origin.  The reason every director sets out to deliver, through self discovery of their own fixation, to a complex tower of stacked images which play before us as new ‘enlightenment to savor and react to.

It is done as a construct but one without script. Just a developing set of subjects and observations into which the all important genre making pieces are revealed and screened.
Hitchcock first

What Hitchcock became known for was his cinematic exploration of characters through their own psychoanalysis being realized outside them and on film. The theories under construction involved the casting into the narrative thoughts through dream sequence.  Unseen before the unconscious met up with the conscious in separation while we were exposed to both.  The film is of course Spellbound in 1945 with Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman. The dream sequence darkly realized was by Salvador Dali.  

Troubled in his role as a director of a Mental institution Peck is at his youthful finest and Bergman is attracted to his peculiar behavior as an in-patient.  She saturates the film with Scandanavian chilling reservation probably foreseeing the onrush of psychosis based films from that region.  It is a brilliant thriller by a master artist (it only received 6 nominations for the Academy awards its newness being its downfall in not receiving any awards) whose future directions were to enter the mainstream as spellbinding films or more innovation and assured narrative.
The Best screen kiss? Notorious?
The stand of Alfred Hitchcock was one apart from milking the thriller with standard psychiatry, psychology, psychoanalysis, psychotherapy depictions, ones that appear in crime drama and turned full circle from Cagney to cowboy misfit Shane.  He avoided the ordinary. So this film documentary starts with a challenged cinema. From the pre-Millenium gold rush of The Sopranos which harnessed and provided Television audiences in box set a new phenomenon,  drama in which all manner of aspects of characters could be explored.  It’s not now TV or Cinema as we have grown used to and the point of referring to it is to explain it was not foreseen by these directors.  This is not the intended scope ofHitchcock/Truffaut but it has t be raised by virtue of its film message. 
Who would be a Director?

Their psychoneuroses is a different story.  Hollywood is a double identity town, actually a city.  People with mere ambition meet the unpleasantness of greed and capricious exploitative hoping against hope to have an immersive part in the history of Cinema.  To this warm climate, in the light and shade comes the fruit of either of two trees, Prunus dulcis (sweet almond) or P. dulcis amara (bitter almond) morality and sin.  Creatives like Hitchcock did devour the subjects he calls at one stage ‘cattle’ ill patronage serving a visual zeal uncomfortable in his own shell he would insert his belligerence into each film as a contrarian note.  His was not a beauty he would seek us to endure.  Rather he sought out actresses and actors whose drama qualities were often heightened reactionary with the notable exception of Ingrid Bergman.  Notorious and Spellbound her transfixing fragility held with disconcerting solidity and interior strength.  Astonishingly beautiful she provided more than Hitchcock could have dreamt and his guidance was to turn out these two greatest of movies.
Troubled male and female connections.

Far from being or admitting to be knowledgable about women Alfred Hitchcock at 23 when he wrote his first screenplay and short shared the complexity of a young soldier willing and able to kill and go to war but unformed with emotional strength to enter relationships with women knowing only the urges and sexual dynamics sought and focused on as part of the self.  Alfred Hitchcock is not to say a naive traveler but one whose exploration went deeper and had the ego in mind.  The subconscious and conscious desires.  Already established it would appear was the morality r lack of it brought by a Christian Brothers education in Islington, that liberal London ward.  His funeral and admittedly that is an unexpected leap, Hitchcockian one perhaps, was in the Catholic Westminster Cathedral were Catholic Londoners converge upon their vision of God, next to the Abbey where Protestants converge on their vision of God but alongside for their weakness, sufferance and endurance they must tag sovereignty to their base of Christianity.

Alfred Hitchcock has therefore a semblance of knowing as a 23 year old and off he goes into the mysterious world of film making having been constrained by subtitling, imaginatively, films of British output having foresaken early ‘hothouse’ engineering and graphic design. He himself admits he was to devour films for their visual manipulation of time and thought, of their compression, halting, speeding up of time, the derangement of reality set before audiences suspensefully.  The atypical Alfred Hitchcock sanguine outer ‘bulk’ intimidatory or not his frame was his shield and presence enabling the gruff dispelling of external, actorial, producer inserts to his master epoch.  Very early on Francois Truffaut becomes aware of the confidence Alfred Hitchcock displays and how central it is to filmaking.  No point in using ideas borrowed or contorted if you have a genius in the room would be, if solicited which would never happen except covertly, Alfred Hitchcock would summon.  

New fresh Modernity

He would however as this film essay shows make the most extraordinarily imaginative leaps of film trust and almost counterintuitivly embrace audiences there to see the show me which he, Alfred Hitchcock, so desired himself.  He would walk through the making of a film as it were with the rolls of film already conceived within his undreaming head.              What we see in this film are dialogues, talking heads, along with too much non-descriptive quartet insoluble music which needn’t be there. That and the irritating, Alfred Hitchcock would not approve, hatch potch designs and variance of titles, subtitles which distract through lack of fluidity are small failings in a work, a film of this age which should become part of any prospective filmmaker, or for that matter viewer and interested cinemagoer; not one who’s expectations are low and easily satiated, but a compulsion and necessity to extend the satisfaction and advancement of thinking and diverse conjecture placed through the media.  It is a joint enterprise, this act of belonging to a cinema audience, in a crowd, expectant, unprefixed, sensation or salutary seeking people that unite for that hour or two, that have digested an earlier lesser thrown net of complicit entertainment and through into a void of white screen soon to be filled in the second feature the top billed film to be shared in a darkness only to be illuminated by the vectors of the screen.

Paralysis of Psycosis

Is it a collective diagnosis of mankind, or to be non gender specific, Alfred Hitchcock’s intention to explain ourselves to ourselves or to have him by the same immersive process have it explained to him also, our evolved living. Not for him the science fiction, or comedy, or social transaction of say  To kill aMockingbird. Instead he chooses to feed on fears or rather expose them for their irrationality.  In The Birds, he explains to Francois Truffaut, there is a science in a room, a space he calls it in which the actress with her family hears the birds converging and echoing in the sky above their house.  He has her withdraw to a sofa as the noise and unseen birds intensify in her space.  Instead of following her onto the sofa for a facial expression or clasping hand on the knee or ightenibg grip to the sofa he stays back with the shot to convey she is worrying needlessly.  The safety of the house is intact, the rooms has little light entering and no aperture for an on rush of birds.  I don’t recall the windows or any shutters but what he is explaining is the safety existing and also the derangement of thinking the worst.
Psycosis is, this film underpins, quite a fixation of Alfred Hitchcock’s, outside the primary delight he has in using objects, the everyday and corrupting their part in our lives.  The knife is over done here and there, in his films. His reverence of the supernatural which he conjectures, I believe as the form the church takes in people’s lives, is where the scenes he shoots – the person or the event, from below as a complete separation.  The glass floor.  Or the quayside lifting to the sky for an overview after the blaze connects two fires in The Birds as they too congregate in the godlike heavens over a small insignifant village extemplorising the narrowness of everyone’s view.
The endemic non linear thinking comprising our lives.  The oversight of a God is also effected in the many scenes he develops using a completely directly overshot framing and stillness.  The time is immemorial in Alfred Hitchcock’s films.  He cares little of the concept of time.
Scorsese’s take.

In this film there are a few directors such as the Japanese director, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Martin Scorsese, Peter Bogdanvitch, whose input is heightened as an extension of Francois Truffaut’s intelligent exploration.  Pre-Cinema history courses and the explosion of availability there are several ubiquitous dialogues from talking heads included here in this film.              Wes Anderson is one and has few insights other than his enthusiasm which given the dollar advantages is his staple modest amusement stic with which is his vogue modus.  Martin Scorsese invites you to consider and does not tell.  Truly wise he conceives of several dynamics of influential shifts in the film making process and of the straying to the avant grade in, for example Vertigo.
It’s the bra MS confides in the film.
He cares not that the script and story don’t stack up in several ways but he focuses on the deployment of the camera and art of deceptive emotional tugs and plays with the audiences expectations.  He speaks of the perversity of the sexual connotations as Francois Truffaut emulates, was he to experiment and mulatein Jule et a Jim? It is the psychosis Alfred Hitchcock prevails upon in this and outwardly in Psycho.  In vertigo Alfred Hitchcock proposes the perfection sought; a Swan Lake scenario and the many derivations thereafter, none say After Swan Lake do they?!, of a partner, Black swan, White Swan. 

To be aroused Alfred Hitchcock wants both (Vertigo) but can’t have either and destruction awaits.  It is a fantasy of realities making, of how we are configured with Ibsens troll, that totally adulterated word, of The Wild Duck formed in this failure of morality to be upheld. No time is described in these examples that is not conducive to that reading.  Indeed the reading of plays as Timberlake Wertenbaker ** astutely observes in responding to the perceptions of her brilliant play, and one I have as amongst the very best, Our Country’s Good, s the observation it is better to set a theory in a constructed past or version of it to reveal the core.  That balance is what is found in our Irish envelope, in the England of the Catholic Shakespeare and the Scandinavian and Germanic Protestantism.  From Luther to Lang.

Conclusion ####4

There is a lot to digest and take away from this important timely documentary, as we enter a period where filmaking as it becomes a more democratic entity, for the richness of observation.  It is a filmic vision of former times cleverly woven into contemporary meaning and sets up , as perhaps my take on Wes Andersons contribution being in this context slight, has to show us the convincing human condition exploration one Alfred Hitchcock, and then one Francois Truffaut committed to the canon. It is a dreadfully sad note to end on but the untimely death of Francois Truffaut has robbed the world of a genius unfulfilled but with a legacy nonetheless.  It is a film made with undoubted affection and determination to give continuance to the art in providing for the most part, unfettered disclosure in the true affectionate appreciative way both principals would have wished for and desired.  The fact this film commemorates their joint enterprise is testament enough of that.

QFT feature this in March on the following dates.  Friday 4 – Sunday 6 and on Wednesday 9 and Thursday 10.  Check for details.

Timberlake Wertenbaker ** The philosophy equally applies in my view to Cinema.  Your duty to watch!

Much of these quotes disseminate wisdom found in both Cinema and Theatre. 

Included as the fourth wall exists in each.

“The Greeks believed that it was a citizen’s duty to watch a play. It was a kind of work in that it required attention, judgement, patience, all the social virtues.”

“And the Greek were conquered by the more practical Romans, Arthur.”

“Indeed, the Romans built their bridges, but they also spent many centuries wishing they were Greeks. And they, after all, were conquered by the barbarians, or by their own corrupt and small spirits.” 

Timberlake Wertenbaker

“I’d forgotten how arrogant people are in the theater, I’m agreeing to starve for a year and he seems to think I should be pleased to have the part.” 

― Timberlake Wertenbaker, The Break of Day

“I’d forgotten how arrogant people are in the theater, I’m agreeing to starve for a year and he seems to think I should be pleased to have the part.” 

― Timberlake Wertenbaker, The Break of Day

“Being laughed at is excellent preparation for marriage.” 

― Timberlake Wertenbaker, The Ash Girl

“Dawes? Dawes, do come back to earth and honour us with your attention for a moment.” 

― Timberlake Wertenbaker, Our Country’s Good

“Why are you so angry with your Duckling, harry? Don’t you like it when I open my legs wide to you? Cross them over you – the way you like? What will you do when your little Duckling isn’t there anymore to touch you with her soft fingertips, Harry, where you like it? First the left nipple and then the right. Your Duckling doesn’t want to leave you, Harry.”


“I need freedom sometimes, Harry.” 

― Timberlake Wertenbaker, Our Country’s Good
“It is very good, Wisehammer, it’s very well written, but it’s too-too-political. It will be considered provocative.”

“You don’t want me to say it.”

“Not tonight. We have many people against us.”

“I could tone it down. I could omit ‘We left our country for our country’s good.'”

“That’s the best line.” 

― Timberlake Wertenbaker

“This is a profligate prison for us all, it’s a hellish hole we soldiers have been hauled to because they blame us for losing the war in America.” 

― Timberlake Wertenbaker, Our Country’s Good

“Unexpected situations are often matched by unexpected virtues, are they not?” 

― Timberlake Wertenbaker, Our Country’s Good

The crossover may not be completed including the above yet the narratives are similar in a lot of ways to the provisions of film though without the FX.

Posted here below is the transcript from Hitchcock Wiki, after the insert, which you may also appreciate.

John Graham

2 March 2016


From the 

In the fall of 1962, whilst The Birds was in post-production, François Truffaut carried out extensive interviews with Alfred Hitchcock at his offices at Universal Studios. The interviews were recorded to audio tape and the content eventually edited down into Truffaut’s Hitchcock book.
Although Truffaut could speak a little English, he hired Helen Scott (of the French Film Office in New York) to act as the translator for the interviews.
Truffaut had intended to quickly publish the book of the interviews, but the first edition wasn’t published until several years later (1966 in France and 1967 in America). To bring the book up-to-date, Truffaut conducted further interviews to discuss Marnie and Torn Curtain.
In 1984, Patricia Hitchcock donated a set of the interview tapes to the Margaret Herrick Library, where they are now part of the Hitchcock Collection.  Although Truffaut claimed that the recordings lasted 50 hours, the surviving tapes — which cover the 1962 interviews — last for less than 26 hours.

Research by Janet Bergstrom has made clear the fact that the book often does not contain a verbatim transcript of Hitchcock’s responses to Truffaut’s questions.

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 slightly off–colour jokes and descriptions of individuals that might offend them or even prove libelous.  Information was dropped that would be considered precious today, particularly by film historians: explanations of technique were greatly 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.

The interviews were used as the basis of Alain Riou and Stéphane Boulan’s French stage play Hitch: When Truffaut Confronted Hitchcock.

Posted here is the transcript from Hitchcock Wiki which you may appreciate.


Of the period of the childhood, they always tell a story of the police station when your father had you locked up. Is that a true story?

I was just sent along with a note, I must have been four or five years of age, and the head of the police read it and then put me into the cell and said “that’s what we do to naughty boys”.

And what had you done to deserve that?
I cannot imagine because my father used to call me “the little lamb without a spot”!


But he was very severe, very stern?


They say that in school you were very [an] average student but very strong in geography.

I was usually with the—— You see, I was with the Jesuits, you see, and I was usually about four or five in the form, in the class.

Four or five – that is the [???]

I was never first. I was second once or twice. But average, four or five.
And your ambition at that moment was to become an engineer?

Well, all little boys are asked what do they want to be when they grow, you know. And, you know, you say “engineer” and my parents took me seriously, so they sent me to an engineering school.[1]

But perhaps you did have a more scient—— curiosity for science?

Well, I was able to pick up quite an amount of knowledge of practical engineering. The theory of laws of force and motion. Electricity, theoretically and applied. I learned to be a draughtsman, which helped me later on when I became an art director.

This was following the Jesuit college?[2]


This would be the period of about 19 years of age. But, at that time, you see, I had great enthusiasm for theatre and for films. [I] would go to the theatre first nights alone.

I would like to situate that period. This was after the Jesuit college, because when you were with the Jesuits you couldn’t go out very much, could you?
No, no, no. It was after. It was after.

But, I was so keen on films that I only—— at the age of 16, I would only read trade papers. Not fan magazines.

Then, while I was with the engineering company[3], I studied art at the University of London. Then I got transferred to the advertising department, which enabled me to draw advertisements, and design, and the beginning of ideas.
This was already—— you were working for film companies then?

No, no, no, no – still with the engineering company then.

Well, what type of drawings were these, then?

Drawings for advertisements, in——

——but, what, I mean——

What, papers?

——for plumbing, or what?

For cables – electric cables. The big ones that go in the road, you know.

When I discovered that an American [film] company was opening in London, I wanted to get the job—— not to go in, but to merely to get the ordering of the words, to do their titles, for the films.

Let’s go back a little while because I want to develop[?] this period. Did you prefer theatre to movies—— to films?
I think I preferred films, although I used to go a lot to the theatre. I think that the films were the things that attracted me.

British films must have been rather poor at that time… but there was Amer—— there are American films?

Yes. Well, I was attracted more to the American cinema than I was the British – much more. For example——
——what did you have, Chaplin, Griffith?

Chaplin and Griffith and the early Paramount pictures – they were called “Famous Players” in those days.

Douglas Fairbanks. Mary Pickford. And also——

——what did you prefer?

——and also the films of Decla-Bioscop. Decla-Bioscop came before UFA. Decla-Bioscop and UFA came together as one company. But UFA was a big distribution organisation and Decla-Bioscop, they had these very early films of Murnau, you know.
German pictures?

German, oh yes. But Decla-Bioscop came before UFA.
Did Murnau’s pictures attract you?

Yes, but they came later, really.

And perhaps you saw them in Berlin?

They came—— no, Murnau’s films came around 1923-1924.

But what could you be looking at then, in 1920? What were you [tape dropout] that attracted you?

All kinds of films. I even remember the French… Max Linder.
[FT] Et le films du Griffith […] ?
[Hitchcock makes a positive sound]

Those attracted you very much?

Oh, yes, sure. The [in French accent] “Intolerance” and “Birth of a Nation”.
There were more intimate pictures than that – “The Poor Love”, “Through the Storm”

“Orphans of the Storm”? That was a French Revolution story.

No, that was “The Two Orphans”.

In which firm did you go to work.


After Henley’s?

Ah, Famous Players-Lasky. Famous Players-Lasky British Producers.

[FT] C’est ça Islington?

Yes. Islington, yes.
There you went to design titles?

Yes, but I.. I designed the titles but I didn’t go to work [there] immediately, I still had the other job.

And what was the drawings, what was their specific function, these drawings?

Well, in those days, you see, all titles were illustrated.

You mean what would correspond now to subtitles?

The captions.

The captions.

The framing around the sub—— around the captions?
Well, erm, no. For example… you had, in those days, narrative titles and spoken titles. “Came the dawn…” is the most famous of all titles!

Now, for example, if the title said “George was leading a very fast life by this time” we will have lettering but underneath I would a draw a candle with a flame at each end.


That’s yes [tape dropout] we will find out exactly what the titles [loud cough] That is, to say, Mr Hitchcock had to guess… which would be, [to FT] yes… [to AH] you had already sensed which would be the period [i.e. moment] in the picture which one would have to use titles… you had already sensed that, on your own.

Oh, yeah—— well, no, they would be in the script, you see, but I had to provide the ideas for the illustration.

And so they liked your ideas and that’s how you got the job?

And in my notes I have “very rapidly Mr Hitchcock very rapidly became the chief of the titles in that department”.

Well, I’d like to elaborate on that a moment. I eventually went to work in the studio in the—— I suppose you would call it the “editorial department”. Which consisted of two American gentlemen, who were writers by reputation, and the head of the department—— you see, in those days, they didn’t have producers – they had the director, who would then have, as his advisers, the editorial department. Under the head of the editorial department would be the writers.

When the film was finished it would come back to the editor—— head of the editorial department who would then write the titles, or rewrite them, from the original script because in those days, by the use of titles – narrative and spoken – whole sections of the story could be changed because the actor went [Hitchcock mimes an actor speaking] then a title came on the screen and they could put whatever words they liked in his mouth. It has been known for this process to save a bad film. There as one film I remember, it was a very bad film – a drama – so they put comedy titles all the way through it! A big success! Because it came satirical, you see.
And perhaps you might use, also, titles to cut. If an actor was very bad, you could cut what was bad out of the picture by the use of—— by substituting titles?

More than that, you could take the end of the picture and put it up in the beginning. Anything.
You could save a picture by adding many titles?


But in no case could you take out any titles, because they were all foreseen in the shooting… they were anticipated——

Yes, but it didn’t matter.

For instance, recently the Germans reissued they… I think they called them Buster Keaton’s “The General”?——


…and in order to make it more modern, they try to take out the titles and it was so disastrous, the screening was so disastrous that they were forced to put them back in.

Oh, really?

Because Keaton really worked from the titles.

Oh, did he? Yes. Yes, yes.

Well, it was while I was in this department, you see, that I got acquainted with the writers and was able to study the scripts. And, out of that, I learned the writing of scripts.

And also to look at—— examine the pictures very close, from inside?

For sure. And, not only that, if an extra scene was wanted, I used to be sent out to shoot it. Not important—— not acting scenes, no.

But, just transition scenes?

Yes, yes. So, in this department, I was able to learn quite a lot because one was learning the beginnings of a film and the end of a film.
When the studio closed down, I found a story – a long novel – in a magazine—— a novelette, you know. And I found that the story was owned by Universal, an American company. And I didn’t mind, I sat down and wrote a script, based on this story, as an exercise.

Now that the Americans returned [to the United States], they closed the studio and let it be for rentals… [for] English companies to come in and rent the studio space, you see. So, we were looking to these companies coming in for our jobs, you see. Well, I got a job as an assistant director.

[FT] Michael Balcon, non?

No, before Balcon. Before Balcon.

There was a famous London actor: Seymour Hicks. And, he quarrelled with the director and said to me “let’s, you and I, finish this alone.” He was an actor and a director in the theatre, but he didn’t know much… but not much on films.

[FT] C’était “Always Tell You——”?

——“Always Tell Your Wife”, yes. So I helped him and, meanwhile, there was another company coming in and they hadn’t got a story, and I was going to be assistant director with this company. And, my friend, who was the art director for Paramount [i.e Famous Players-Lasky] was going to be the art director. And, I helped them talk to these—— this company – which was Balcon, Freedman & Saville – and they bought a story called “Woman to Woman”.

[FT] Saville? C’est Victor Saville, non?

Yes, Victor Saville.

So, they said, well we have to get a script ready. So, I said I would like to do that. They said “You? What have you done?” I said, “I will show you something.” So, I showed them the script I’d written. They were very impressed, so I got the job. I was 23.
“Number 13”?

Oh, that was a comedy. That never finished. A two-reeler.

What was that, a documentary?

No, there was a woman working in the studio who had worked with Chaplin and she had an idea for a story – a two-reeler – and she wrote this thing and we found some money and it wasn’t very good. This was also when the studio closed down.

It never came out?


What was “Woman to Woman”?

As I say, I was 23 at the time, and I’d never been out with a girl in my life. I’d never had a drink in my life. This was a story, which was a successful stage play in London, about an army officer during World War One, on leave in Paris, has an affair with a dancing girl, goes back to the front and is shell-shocked and he loses his memory. [He] goes back to England and marries a society woman, and then the dancer turns up with child. And the conflict [???] You know, the end of the story is that the dancer dies.

And you were the assistant—— at the same time you acted as assistant director on that picture?

More, more. My friend, the art director, said he couldn’t come on the picture, so I said, “I will do the art directing!”

[FT] …Graham Cutts?

Yes, Graham Cutts. But I did the art direction—— I wrote the script, did the art direction and helped in the production. My wife was the editor and, in those days, script girl and editor was one person. Because, today, script girl keeps too many books, you know? She’s an accountant[?].

So, you’d just got married then, at that period then?

No, not yet. Oh no, not yet.

Oh, you hadn’t gone out with a girl——?

We met on that picture.
I was curious——

We met on that picture

The Mountain.. The Mountain Eagle?

“The Mountain Eagle”. That was no good.

Afterwards was “The Lodger”.

Well, “The Lodger” of course, that’s another story.

“The Lodger” was the first true Hitchcock picture. I saw a play and it was called “Who is He?” and it was a play based on the book of Mrs Belloc Lowndes called “The Lodger”. The story was the house that took in lodgers and the woman of the house wondered “is the man upstairs Jack the Ripper or not?” But, I treated it purely from her point of view–– they have made it since and… they’ve done it two or three times since but too elaborate and no [???].

Now, of course, there is one slight difficulty – the leading man is England’s matinee idol and that’s Ivor Novello, but he was a big name. Well, these are the problems that we face with the star system. Always the story has to be compromised because the star cannot be a villain.

Was it not foreseen that he was an innocent–– wasn’t he innocent?

Yes, but a story of this kind, he should have go on into the night and we should never have known.

But you cannot do that with a big star, you must say “he is innocent.”

But I am surprised that Mr. Hitchcock would want to do a picture where the public would not know at the end.

Well, in this case, I think that if you have suspense – is he or is he not Jack the Ripper… if you say “yes, he’s Jack the Ripper”, you’ve merely confirmed a suspicion and that, to me, is not dramatic. But, we went the other way and we show that he wasn’t Jack the Ripper at all.

I found the same problem many, many years after making a film “Suspicion” with Cary Grant. Cary Grant couldn’t be a murderer.

Would he have refused? Would––

Cary, at the time? Not necessarily. No, not necessarily. But the front office–– we call the front office.

I’ve read the book and I know the picture very well and I don’t think, at all, that the picture is inferior to the novel.

But I had a–– an ending for that picture. There’s a famous scene where he carries a glass of milk. You know, when I had that scene, I put a light in the milk… so it would show.

[to FT] No, no, no – in the milk. [In French] Dans le lait. A light in the milk ‘cause I wanted it to be luminous.

The ending I wanted to do, but they couldn’t permit it: the girl in the story knows that her husband is a murderer so she writes a letter to her mother, “Dear mother, I’m desperately in love with him but I don’t want to live – he’s going to kill me and I’d rather than die. But I think society should be protected from him.” And she puts it by the bed. He comes up with the milk. She says, “Will you send this letter to mother for me dear?” He gives her the milk, she drinks [it] and she dies. Fade out.

One scene–– when the–– one scene.

[FT] “Fade out”?

Fade out, it’s you know–– [in French] fondu.

Then, après, one short scene: Cary Grant, with a letter, whistling cheerfully, opens the mailbox…

[Hitchcock whistles and presumably mimes putting the letter into the mailbox]

Yes, very good, but… the novel is very, very good but the scenario… I think that you don’t sense any compromise in the scenario. It is truly the story of a woman who, realising that her husband is not what she’s dreamed of, fantasises to herself–– and begins to–– and finally is convinced he’s a murderer. Finally, it becomes less unusual than that of the novel, but psychologically really more beautiful.


Because you can even think the novel, taken from the scenario, would have been better than the original novel. That is, the character was Cary Grant was very, very successful. What was perhaps lacking in the picture were certain notations[?] on the fact that he is interested in other women…

Yes, yes.

…in the scenario, he is exclusively a little bit dishonest with money.

That’s right, yes.

I have seen the picture again ten days ago.

Oh, really? Yes.

And one believes really completely in their scenes of happiness together. For me, it’s one of your most beautiful American pictures and the last scene [of] the picture is very abstract, theoretical. And yet very, very beautiful.

Well, let’s go back to “The Lodger” because it was the first film possibly influenced by my period in Germany. The whole approach to it was instinctive with me. It was the first time I’d exercised any style. In truth, in truth, you could almost say it was my first picture.

In the first place, I took – shall we say – pure narrative and presented, for the first time, ideas in purely visual forms. I took ten minutes on a late winter afternoon in London, starting about five-twenty and I opened the picture with 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 – “C’est soir, Tonight, Golden Curls. Tonight, Golden Curls”. And panned from the sign to the water and it’s flicking[1] in the water and [Hitchcock now describes the sequence of subsequent camera cuts] out of the water comes the dead head of the drowned girl… pulled ashore… consternation… murdered… and, no titles… no titles. Police… crowd… reporter… notebook… reporter to telephone. He was a reporter for a wire service, not for a newspaper.

Now I proceed to show what happened to that piece of news. Typed out on the special wire service machine, there you read… only a little bit. Then you had people in the clubs looking – the newspaper people, the broadcasting people… being broadcast… people listening. Now following the newspaper and the running–– you know they call them “scintillating signs” they have on Broadway, you know they run…

[to FT] …Times Square.

…they have them at the Place de l’Opéra, don’t they.[2]

Each time, you got some more information that he murdered only fair-haired girls… he always did it on Tuesdays… how many he has done to date… reasons speculating why he did it… he goes around dressed in a black cloak… he carries a black bag… what might be in the bag?

But, the news was–– this information was spread over all these different means of communication. Now, the newspaper goes out. Now the effect on various people. It’s now nearly five-thirty… chorus girls are coming off the stage – the blonde ones are terrified and the brunettes are laughing. The hairdressing establishment – girls going home, stealing dark curls and putting under their hats.

That was a great success.

When it was first shown, they sent the distributors–– sent the head of their publicity department – a woman – and one of their high officials. They looked at the film and went back to report to the big boss, in the film centre – Wardour Street it’s called…

[to AH] “Warder Street”?

Wardour Street, that’s where they’ve they all the films… “Film Row”–– [spells] W, A, R, D, O, U, R.

Anyway, they said “Impossible to show. It’s too bad. The film is terrible. Terrible film.”

Two days later, the big boss comes down to the studio to look at it. He arrived at two-thirty. Mrs Hitchcock and I were not married then, but we were going to be married in about three or four months’ time. We couldn’t bear to wait in the studio to know the result and we walked the streets of London. Wondering… wondering… what’s happening… what’s happening? And finally, we walked for about one hour and a half, or more, and I said “it must be over by now, we’ll get a cab–– taxi and go back.”

We got back and I went in, looking at the people in the studio… he[3] agrees, it’s terrible. It wasn’t a happy a happy ending to the walk – we were hoping we’d go back and he’d say “oh, it’s wonderful!”

So, they put the film on the shelf. They stopped booking it, because they were booking it on Novello’s name, you see. And about, some couple of months later, they decided to take another look at it and they wanted some changes made – I can’t remember what they were. I agreed to make about two and finally the picture shown and it was acclaimed as the greatest British picture ever made.

But I think that your camera work today is… aims to create effects which are not noticed as effects.

That’s right. That’s true.

Ah, ah! Well! That’s the change in general styles. No, I wouldn’t do the ceiling again because I would be satisfied with the moving chandelier.

For instance, because the British director who wanted to do a picture in your style – an imitation of your style – Lee Thompson[4] had his character go to fetch something from the réfrigérateur and the camera was in the réfrigérateur. And that’s the sort of thing you would never do.

Never do. That’s like shooting through the fireplace.

At the end of “Lodger”… [to FT] “lynchage”? [to AH] …there an atmosphere of lynch–– a lynching.

Yes, that’s right. Yes, sure.

Yes, he was handcuffed, you see, and he tried to climb over some railings and got hung on the railings… they got caught on the railings. Well, the handcuffs, of course, were… a thing that–– an idea that… goes, I don’t know, psychologically fairly deep. There’s–– I don’t know what do you think this–– what Francois thinks the psychological, almost psychotic, attitude is towards to tying up. [???] somewhere in the area of a fetish, isn’t there? Isn’t that so?

I don’t know, it’s impressed me very much in your pictures! Because one finds it very–– one encounters it very often in your pictures.

Well, but I think that somehow – I don’t know what it is – the handcuffing has a deeper significance to people.

It’s [???]–– it’s the most immediate symbol of the deprivation of liberty.

Well, yes but it has sex connotations.

[of FT] “I don’t have a psychoanalytical frame of mind at all,” says he.

He doesn’t?

He doesn’t.

And, in the scene of the handcuffing – I’ve seen that picture once – it seems to me that you did want to, perhaps, suggest Christ.

Talking down from the cross. When they lifted him down. That was my idea. That did occur to me.

From this respect, effectively it is the first Hitchcock… even in its themes because… it is a thing you’ve taken very often, a man accused of a crime he has not committed. One might think that “I Confess”, perhaps, has similarity to “The Lodger”.

Could be. Yes. To some extent.

You know the theme of the innocent being accused, I think provides the audience with a sense of terrible danger that they might be in the same position. Rather than a guilty man on the run, you see.

That is to say, it satisfies at the same time, for the audience, the desire to see illegal things and, at the same time, they might identify with the…

Yes, that’s right. Yes.

The average man is plunged into extraordinary, unaverage [???]

That’s right. Sure.

That’s a constant in your pictures.

Oh, it is. It represents every man and the average man is the best identification. This, again, is taking the audience into account.

Before I abandon the silent pictures… perhaps we would like to have a few generalities on silent pictures.

Well, silent pictures are the pure emotion pictures. There was only one thing missing in the silent pictures and that was sound coming out of the people’s mouths and sounds coming from the streets. But it didn’t warrant the big change that sound brought in.

In other words, you see, the silent picture was merely – looking at them from a realistic standpoint – it was natural sound that was missing.

In other words, there was no need to abandon the technique of the pure motion picture, the way it was abandoned when sound came in.

Yes, surely in the final years of silent pictures, on the whole the production perhaps… they had succeeded in reaching a certain amount of perfection such that, one might think, that the sound picture destroyed that perfection. I mean to say that, again, a lot of mediocrity came in.

I agree. Oh, of course – immediately. I still sustains to this day because, to me, as I said to you earlier this morning, so many of the films made today are photographs of people talking.

The next picture was the next “Hitchcock picture” – “Blackmail”.

But… I’m trying to think when the–– of course, my experiments with the “Blackmail” picture – it was started as a silent picture.

And certain scenes were then shot over again for sound?

Well, the interesting, slightly romantic side of that is that I was asked to prepare the last scene only – the last reel in sound. Because, in those days, when talk first came in, they used to advertise it as “part sound” and they made a novelty of the sound starting in the middle of the picture.

You see, when I knew that they were going to make the thing into sound, there was–– I was shooting silent. I prepared in my own mind to make the whole film in sound and I knew where certain talking scenes went in. But, of course, it, to me, that shows today – if you look at the film today, it’s still a silent film and practically with the people speaking titles.

It looks like that, it’s a…

I saw it at the cinémathèque but I don’t remember if it was sound–– there are two versions, aren’t there? Are there––

Possibly, yes.

It seems to me I saw the sound version. There was a piano scene I think that was remade with sound.

Well, the whole thing was sound at the end.


Because I had that famous use of sound when the girl has committed the murder and she goes home and there’s a scene at a breakfast table of her family and there’s a talkative neighbour from next door. And the neighbour is talking about the murder around the corner and “What a terrible thing to kill a man in the back with a knife.” The woman said “If I were committing a murder, I’d hit him over the head with a brick, but I wouldn’t use a [with emphasis] knife.”

And, as her dialogue went on, it became a sound of talk, talk, and the talk became less clear, except one word: “knife… knife”. And I played it on the girl’s face… and you hear this neighbour–– and it dies away and it goes a long way away. All you can hear is, “[mumbled words] KNIFE! [mumbled words] KNIFE! [mumbled words] KNIFE!”

Suddenly, the voice of the father, “Pass the bread knife would you please, Alice?” – normal voice. And she has to pick up the same [type of] knife as she committed the murder with. But it was the contrast of the [makes repetitive noises to represent the beat of the word “knife”] to the normal voice coming back. That was the first experiment with sound.

Aside from that, were you pleased with the script–– with the scenario?

It was a simple yarn. It was a simple story. I never really did it the way I wanted to. It–– I was probably using “The Lodger” form. I was showing in the first reel the technique of an arrest.

[ to be completed! ]

In general, the transcriptions made by the Hitchcock Wiki attempt to match the English parts of the interview, with the following caveats:

occasionally Hitchcock, Truffat and translator Helen Scott spoke across each other without adding to the conversation and this is marked as “[crosstalk]”
quick verbal corrections mostly ignore the words that the speaker was correcting — for example, Scott occasionally has to modify her translation of Truffaut
Hitchcock occasionally has to repeat words to allow Scott time to translate and these repeatitions are generally not included
audio dropouts in the recording are marked as “[tape dropout]” — if the missing words can be guessed confidently, they are included
occasionally Hitchcock responded in French directly to Truffaut — if this is simply a repetition of words already spoken in English by Hitchcock, they are generally not transcribed
occasionally Hitchcock understood Truffaut without the need for Scott to translate — in these instances, the statement is prefixed with “[FT]” to indicate that it is Truffaut speaking and not Helen Scott and only limited attempts have been made to transcribe the French words and phrases
where it is unclear what is being said, entire words or phrases are replaced with “[???]” and dubiously transcribed words are appended with “[?]”
where the meaning of a statement is unclear or ambiguous, additional information in square brackets is added to clarify the meaning
if the speaker seems to be addressing a specific person, it is marked as “[to AH]”, “[to FT]” or “[to HS]” to indicate Hitchcock, Truffaut or Scott respectively
“——” is used to represent a speaker being interrupted or for when the speaker decides to change what they were initially going to say
pauses in mid-sentence are generally not indicated, as Hitchcock often pauses to allow Scott to translate into French and Scott often begins translating Truffaut before he has finished his sentence — where they are included, they are shown as “…”
in general, the transcripts attempt to follow the flow of dialogue whenever possible.