Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘Alfred Hitchcock’

13 AUGUST, 2012

How Alfred Hitchcock Changed One Boy’s Life

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“Many times it takes such a spark as this to help a youngster out of his shell and on the road to confidence.”

Alfred Hitchcock — legendary director, insightful happiness guru, masterful exploiter of human psychology — was born 113 years ago today. Hitchcock, Piece by Piece (public library) deconstructs what author Laurent Bouzereau calls “the Hitchcock touch,” in large part through never-before-published memorabilia from the Hitchcock family archive — letters, memos, photographs, and other ephemera that offer an unprecedented glimpse of the legendary director’s life and mind. Among them is this heart-warming letter from a California school principal, who wrote Hitchcock after the director’s visit to the local school while filming The Birds in March of 1962 and described the impact of the encounter on one particular child:

WILMAR UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT
3775 Bodega Highway
PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA

April 3, 1962

Mr. Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock Productions
Bodega Bay, California

Dear Mr. Hitchcock:

I wanted to take the time to say that your stopping one morning on your way to Bodega Bay to give a group of children a drawing and autograph of you was certainly a deed of thoughtfulness. It is realized that taking the time from your busy schedule is not an easy thing to do.

The real purpose of this letter is to inform you what your deed of kindness did for a boy to whom you gave your drawing and autograph. This boy is quite shy and does not participate readily in class activities, such as sharing his experiences before others during sharing time. He was so thrilled and moved by his experience that he proudly shared his experience and autograph not only with his own class, but in every classroom in the school. The boy never before has done such a thing. Many times it takes such a spark as this to help a youngster out of his shell and on the road to confidence. You don’t realize what your act of kindness has done for this child.

I realize that many other people since then have tried to take advantage of the same opportunity and this has made it difficult and impossible for you to fulfill. None the less, your thoughtful act will not be forgotten by youngsters and teachers alike.

Sincerely,

Duncan Coleman
Principal

Cue in Henry Miller on altruism.

Letters of Note

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19 MARCH, 2012

Alfred Hitchcock on the Secret of Happiness

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“…only things that are creative and not destructive… hatred is wasted energy.”

The secret of happiness and purpose endures as our highest aspiration. From its science and psychology to its geography to its empirical application, we go after it with ceaseless zeal.

In this brilliantly wise and articulate short excerpt from an archival interview, the great Alfred Hitchcock shares his definition of happiness — a definition that makes my own heart sing, and harks back to this morning’s meditation on kindness and the lack thereof.

A clear horizon — nothing to worry about on your plate, only things that are creative and not destructive… I can’t bear quarreling, I can’t bear feelings between people — I think hatred is wasted energy, and it’s all non-productive. I’m very sensitive — a sharp word, said by a person, say, who has a temper, if they’re close to me, hurts me for days. I know we’re only human, we do go in for these various emotions, call them negative emotions, but when all these are removed and you can look forward and the road is clear ahead, and now you’re going to create something — I think that’s as happy as I’ll ever want to be.”

Beautifully said, with a blend of personal vulnerability and firm conviction worthy of profound respect.

Open Culture

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23 SEPTEMBER, 2011

What Makes Hitchcock’s Films Great: An Animated Recipe

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A scoop of suspense, a sprinkle of dry wit, a pinch of love, half a MacGuffin, and one whole cameo.

Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most iconic filmmakers of all time, known as much for his films as for his thoughtful theories of what makes audiences gasp. But what exactly made his films so great? That’s exactly what animators Felix Meyer, Pascal Monaco, and Torsten Strer explore in Hitch, a delightful animated “recipe book” for Hitchcock’s classics.

For me, cinema is not a slice of life but a piece of cake.” ~ Alfred Hitchcock

For some actual recipes based on murder thrillers, see the brilliant Recipe for Murder: Frightfully Good Food Inspired by Fiction.

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