How do you make a documentary about Alfred Hitchcock in 2023? As this film from Mark Cousins reveals—by putting the words in the mouth of the auteur himself.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
Few filmmakers have been as revered, and mythologised, as Alfred Hitchcock. The director of such masterpieces as Vertigo, Psycho, North by Northwest and Rear Window continues to inspire and befuddle, a filmmaker with an impish sense of mischievous glee and a taste for the diabolical. The legend of Alfred Hitchcock has been told and retold in innumerable forms, but in Mark Cousins’ My Name Is Alfred Hitchcock we are given a masterclass in Hitchcockian technique in a method just twisted enough to raise the eyebrows of the master himself. Cousins’ has employed the talents of impressionist Alistair McGowan, who has a mighty Hitchcock impression up his sleeve, to narrate the film from beyond the grave. If that sounds somewhat ghoulish, consider the subject—one suspects it’s just the type of profile of which he would heartily approve.
Extensively and intricately researched, My Name is Alfred Hitchcock weaves footage from virtually every film Hitchcock ever made—over sixty films, from The Pleasure Garden to Family Plot, from The Farmer’s Wife to The Birds—finding remarkable connections between the films and convincingly laying out the six key emotions that guided his filmic sense throughout his career. Film savants will delight in the way the film maps out, in incisive detail, the way Hitchcock could manipulate film language to maximum effect, while newbies will be given a peek under the hood of one of cinema’s most revered artists. There are shades of Orson Welles’ classic essay film F For Fake in the way My Name Is Alfred Hitchcock seems to conjure the ghost of Hitch, all the while reminding us that what we’re watching, like all of cinema, is ultimately the work of fiction—or magic. — Tom Augustine