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The Cine-Technician (1935) - Alfred Hitchcock Says "Acquire a Real Knowledge of Cinema Technique"


  • article: Alfred Hitchcock Says "Acquire a Real Knowledge of Cinema Technique"
  • author(s): Alfred Hitchcock
  • journal: The Cine-Technician (May 1935)
  • issue: volume 1, issue 1, page 3
  • journal ISSN:
  • publisher: Association of Cine Technicians




Alfred Hitchcock Says

"Acquire a Real Knowledge of Cinema Technique"

Any young technician entering films to-day should take a parallel from the instruction given to sailors learning the art of navigation. Just as the best of the present-day candidates for the Mercantile Marine have to pass through a sailing course as an elementary part of their training, so the young man of to-day entering the film world should learn true cinema before embarking upon the "talkie" side. So many young men working in British films at the present time have not got the requisite thorough knowledge of their medium — that is why we get films that are not true cinema, but are merely photographed reproductions of stage plays.

Talk is an adjunct of the cinema. To continue our parallel, it is a different means of propulsion for the film, as sail is a different means of propulsion for the ship from steam. But, just as the navigator has to learn the original and fundamental method of propelling the ship, i.e., by sail, so the technician must first learn thoroughly the art of true cinema. Talk is the essential propulsion of the stage play, but is only an aid in the case of the cinema.

Only the other day the newspapers were full of the number of casualties there have been in recent years in the Mercantile service through the lack of proper sailing knowledge — when steam failed there was nothing to fall back on. So, in the same way, unless technicians concentrate on acquiring a real knowledge of cinema, they will have nothing to resort to.

I would say to anyone entering the film business — learn to use your imagination, to visualise things cinematically — study scripts, not merely as pieces of literature, but use your imagination and conjure up a picture of how each shot will appear on the screen. Learn as much about all sides of the business as you can — art direction, camera work, cutting, continuity — all such knowledge will be useful. Remember that talk is an embellishment of the cinema and a very helpful and necessary adjunct, but it is not a fundamental part. The ideal of the film is to present its story through visual image, dialogue being only an aid, somewhat in the same way as the sub-titles of silent days.


The August edition carried the following apology:

In our last issue we showed a photograph of Miss Madeline Carroll, Miss Alma Reville and Mr. Alfred Hitchcock, taken during' the production of "Thirty-Nine Steps," by Gaumont-British Picture Corporation Limited, and it was stated that this photograph was reproduced with the permission of that Corporation.

Although at the time this photograph was inserted we had reason to believe that it had been furnished from official sources, we have since learned that this is not the case and that the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation, Limited, did not in fact grant any permission for this reproduction. We, therefore, offer that Corporation our apologies for having inadvertently made a mis-statement in this respect, and for having reproduced the photograph.