Book Review: Alfred Hitchcock’s America

| April 29, 2013 | Comments (0)
Image

 

Alfred Hitchcock has long been a favorite amongst horror fans and would-be film buffs. This year, however, may see Hitchcock’s work garner a new generation of fans with the release earlier this year of Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock. The movie portrays a love story of sorts between Alfred Hitchcock and wife Alma during the preparation for and shooting of Psycho in 1959. What might seem like an unlikely backdrop for a love story is one that captures something truly special about the man and his methods that is certain to inspire cinemagoers to undertake further research into the man.Thankfully, film deconstruction extraordinaire Murray Pomerance releases his latest informative offering entitled Alfred Hitchcock’s America this year. This book follows in the same vein as the other books in the America series and is sure to satisfy those of us hungry for further information about the man behind the infamous knife scene, the father of modern horror.

 

We all know that films as an art reflect the world in which they were created in a way that few other art forms could pull off. It is for this reason that film is viewed as being such an integral part of social and cultural identity and it is this aspect of filmmaking that Pomerance chooses to focus on.

 

A skilled film analyst, Pomerance comes at a text from a cultural and political standpoint and investigates what it is that a given film can tell us about the time in which it was created. In particular, Pomerance makes a point from the very beginning of his book to note that Alfred Hitchcock was not himself an American man, despite having had a passion for American culture since a young age. This poses a number of question that continue throughout the course of Pomerance’s investigations; how did a non-American come to create movies which are seen as being so quintessentially American at their core? And are Hitchcock’s texts a genuine reflection of the America of their creation or are they in fact an outsider’s narrative tainted by the rose-tinted glasses of an Americanophile?

 

Pomerance’s book covers the widest range of films possible ranging from well-known classics like Psycho to Family Plot. Whilst he focuses primarily on the cultural critique inherent to Hitchcock’s work, Pomerancealso manages to provide great insight into the man himself through brief glimpses of his life in relation to his works and it is this fact which makes Hitchcock’s America so worth a read, instead of being the bland critique we are so used to, Pomerance’s work is infused with glimpses of the man behind the infamous knife scene and we walk away with a much deeper insight into the social stigmas and expectations of the America of Hitchcock’s time, as well as a newfound respect for a man who could so obviously expose them.

 

A must-have for the shelves of any horror lover, film buff or teenager wondering where on earth the idea for the slasher genre could have been born and what cultural landscape could have fostered such ideas.

 

Ciara O’Brien

 

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (February 18, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745653030
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745653037
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.2 inches

 

Share

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Book Reviews, Reviews

Leave a Reply




If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.