WHO is he?

Legendary Hollywood director known as “the master of suspense” who worked in Britain during the 20s and the 30s and then in Hollywood till the early 70s. Widely celebrated as a pre-eminent artist of the 20th century, Hitchcock’s body of work is regarded as a clinching evidence for the possibility of incorporating a strong authorial voice into popular genre cinema.

WHAT are his films about?


The films of Hitchcock regularly deal with themes such as loss of masculine ideals, the incessant quest for control to remedy that loss (a desire for control that was reflected in the director’s working methods), the need for narratives in our lives and the fear of domesticity. But, most importantly, they are about the banality of evil, the commonplaceness of cruelty and the violent forces that simmer beneath the glossy veneer of everyday, civilised life. They are a demonstration of fascism’s sustained existence.


A pioneer of filmic suspense, Hitchcock frequently employed what could be called the “bomb theory” — the idea that the tension an audience experiences is multiplied when an impending catastrophe is disclosed only to them beforehand. This makes way for several cross cutting sequences in his films, where spatial or temporal tensions are accentuated by way of delaying resolution. Hitchcock is also known for his exemplary use of two classic narrative devices: the MacGuffin and the Red Herring.

WHY is he of interest?

John Frankenheimer once said, “Any American director who says he hasn't been influenced by him is out of his mind”. There is arguably no other director whose films have been so exhaustively analysed under the microscope as Hitchcock’s. These films have been studied and critiqued from Marxist, Feminist, Queer theorist, psychoanalytic and purely aesthetic and narratological perspectives and what makes Hitchcock’s cinema so special is that it still remains enchanting even when these analyses reveal its working.

WHERE to discover him?

Imitated, parodied and paid tribute to over the ages, Psycho (1960) is nothing less than a watershed in the history of cinema. Hitchcock’s endlessly fascinating and seemingly timeless movie that revolves around a bachelor named Norman Bates who lives with his mother on an isolated motel is a masterpiece of narration, in which deviation becomes both the central theme and the structuring principle. Few sequences in cinema have been as thoroughly dissected as the shower scene in this film.


Outtakes: King VidorNovember 10, 2012

Mani KaulDecember 8, 2012