My Name is Alfred Hitchcock, 2023.
Directed by Mark Cousins.
My Name is Alfred Hitchcock re-examines the vast filmography and legacy of one of the 20th century’s greatest filmmakers, Alfred Hitchcock, through a new lens: through the auteur’s own voice.
Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most recognisable names in the history of cinema, behind a number of classics including Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window, Dial M For Murder and North By Northwest. Marc Cousins, director of The Story of Film: An Odyssey and New Generation, attempts to re-frame Hitchcock’s oeuvre in the context of the 21st Century and the changes that have befallen society since his death, essentially asking how would Hitchcock’s work fit into today’s world, told in voice over as if by the man himself.
The end result is a fascinating deconstruction of Hitchcock’s career spanning from his early works that bridged the gap from Silent Cinema to Talkies, through both his best known works and lesser known gems with clips from many of his films. It shows the level of reverence still paid to Hitchcock and his influence close to a century on from when he started making films. It also charts his own personal story around that of his films from his childhood in Leytonstone and move to make Hollywood pictures.
Alistair McGowan, renowned impressionist, does the voiceover and after a while it feels more than a gimmick, that we could be listening to recordings of the real man. What makes the film standout from more than a clever gimmick is Cousins’ eye for detail and, as he showed with The Story of Film series, he has a deep understanding of his subject matter and is able to put a fresh spin on it.
Cousins breaks Hitchcock’s career into six chapters: Escape, Loneliness, Time, Fulfilment, and Height. Escape is the longest of these but they all make for a fascinating take on many of his films seeing how something like Psycho might overlap with The 39 Steps or Rebecca. Taking films from totally distinct points in his career and seeing how they match up with one another is a thrilling prospect and Cousins is able to capture a remarkably large part of Hitchcock’s back catalogue in just under two hours; with a body of work as large as Hitchcock’s, the film could easily have been twice its length.
If not reframing Hitchcock’s position in the history of cinema, this film shows his continued relevance and how we are still fascinated by him as a personality and the films he made, whether or not they all lived up to his absolute best. Having the impression of Hitchcock guiding us through many of his key moments as a director lends it a personal touch and keeps the film engaging.
My Name is Alfred Hitchcock is a fascinating film that plays out as unorthodoxly as one might expect from Mark Cousins. It is a loving ode to one of cinema’s most complex figures and captures an impressively large portion of his work from the start to the end of his career, which may well give audiences a different perspective on some of Cinema’s most distinctive moments and how they were put together in the manner they were. Ultimately it shows that Hitchcock remains as important as ever, close to 100 years after he first made a moving picture.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★