Alfred Hitchcock: Breaking Down the Master’s Techniques

Alfred Hitchcock is the master of suspense. You’ll see what I mean. A hand draws back a shower curtain and a blade appears through the steam. A man descends a staircase, bearing a tray with a glass of milk that appears at once nurturing and suspicious. A young woman, alone in a museum, stares transfixed at a mysterious portrait.

“In feature films the director is God.” — Alfred Hitchcock

A man trips and falls, his vision deteriorating into a disorienting spiral. A woman boards herself up in a house, to escape the incisive beaks of the murderous creatures outside. A man and a woman press up against a windowsill, watching domestic scenes unfold as though on a television screen.

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Docu-series bringing the forgotten skills of Alfred Hitchcock to today’s pro filmmakers, film students, and the wannabe videographer. Experts examine each of the 20 episodes of television that Hitchcock himself directed.

A woman enters a basement, spins around a rickety chair, and finds herself face-to-face with a decomposing corpse. A brooding man wavers on the edge of a wild, windy cliff, before stepping back from the precipice. A prisoner raises his eyes to meet the camera directly and breaks into a smile.

The Cinema of Alfred Hitchcock is such an integral part of the film canon that these descriptions instantly evoke iconic images. The blade in the steam has been reinterpreted so many times throughout the years that the image has taken on a life of its own, beyond the boundaries of the film Psycho.

Alfred Hitchcock’s classic titles feature in most critics’ Best Film shortlist. Indeed, since 2012, Vertigo has beaten Citizen Kane to the number one spot on the revered Sight and Sound critics’ film poll. Hitchcock’s position as a film master is a well-deserved one. Yet in canonizing – and parodying – his work, we often lose sight of how inventive it was. For the ‘Master of Suspense‘ taught us to question both the suspicious and the mundane.

He taught us to see the danger not only in the blade through the steam, but in the empty night sky. He taught us to fear not only the suspicious stranger in the trench coat, but the husband with the glass of milk.

Alfred Hitchcock is undeniably the world’s most famous film director. His name has become synonymous with the cinema, and each new generation takes the same pleasure in rediscovering his films, which are now treasures of our artistic heritage.

Alfred Hitchcock started out in the British silent cinema of the 1920s, which reached its peak with successful thrillers such as “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1934), “Sabotage” (1936) and “The Lady Vanishes” (1938). Recognized as a ‘young genius’, Alfred Hitchcock moved to Hollywood and set about reinventing cinematic tradition, combining the modern with the classic in films such as “Psycho” (1960), “North by Northwest” (1959) and “The Birds” (1963).

Hitchcock gave talented actors such as James Stewart and Cary Grant the chance to play enduring antiheroes and imprinted the public imagination with the myth of the ‘blonde‘, as embodied by Grace Kelly, Kim Novak and Tippi Hedren.

Below I have compiled over 9 hours of the master breaking down his own work as well as many scholars doing the same. As a HUGE Alfred Hitchcock fan I really enjoyed putting this post together. It’s truly like going to film school watching all of these remarkable videos. Enjoy!

96-Minute ‘Masterclass’ Interview with Alfred Hitchcock on Filmmaking 

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