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Glasgow Film Festival 2023: My Name is Alfred Hitchcock

By Victoria Chang

A prolific movie director from Hollywood’s Golden Age appeals to modern viewers.

Over 100 years after the premiere of his first feature film, the voice of Alfred Hitchcock (via the brilliant impressionist Alistair McGowan) calls to us modern people with our 5G phones. Already renowned as “the Master of Suspense” with his cinematography dissected by endless film fanatics, can this long-dead film director have anything more to say about his prolific work, which is in any case, mostly film noirs belonging to decades way past? 

Mark Cousins’ documentary aims to explore six themes interwoven in Hitchcock’s films and how these are achieved despite the simple technology available to him. This deep dive into his numerous works links them together with vivid detail, and tells us more about his professional techniques. It is any Hitchcock lover’s dream come true, but does it add anything to what we already know? We are treated to anecdotes from his personal life and our experience is presided over by his familiarly dry and sarcastic wit (drawn from his narrations in Alfred Hitchcock Presents). These aspects of the man and his Hollywood character, however, are simply used as a vehicle to segue into the selected themes.

Although the documentary provides another way to keep the reverential beauty of his movies at the forefront of people’s minds, Hitchcock is perhaps best left to the period to which he belonged. His work should be revered and respected, but not tampered with: a time capsule preserved as a remnant of a golden age in film history. Indeed, would Hitchcock have actually stooped down to explain the inner makings of his films, commenting on his favourites or agreeing with modern labels such as “lesbianism” being ascribed to his scenes? I can’t help thinking that he would have preferred us to interpret them ourselves, sharing only the smallest, vaguest smile when we pick up on his little details. Instead, this documentary acts more as palatable reference material for film students (both amateur or professional), or a lecture given by an old and kooky professor who occasionally sidetracks us with personal stories and intimate photos from an old family album.

In the end, even the glamorous allure of Hitchcock and his ingenious film techniques aren’t enough to tear us away from the screens of our 5G phones in the 21st century. We should appreciate his body of work and the ideas which are so well-used in modern film, but the role of Hitchcock and his films are best described by the first theme outlined by Cousins: ‘an escape’.


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