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Collaborators come out from Hitchcock's shadow

January 31, 2008|Susan King

SOME see cinema solely as commercial entertainment created for the masses. ("Rambo," anyone?) But there are others, like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who maintain that filmmaking is an artistic endeavor.

And that's the idea behind the new exhibition "Casting a Shadow: Creating the Alfred Hitchcock Film," a joint venture with Northwestern University's Block Museum, at the academy's Fourth Floor Gallery.

"In the fine arts, it's an individual who creates the object," says academy programmer Ellen Harrington. "Hitchcock was a very interesting example. Between his interviews and the publicity machine that spun up around his personality, [he said] he was sole artistic creator of his work.

"But when you look at the script notes, production design elements and the sketches he would make of camera angles that would be elaborated upon by his cinematographers, you can really see how intensely collaborative he actually was."

The exhibition includes film clips and audio stations where one can listen to tapes of Hitchcock's meetings with his production team and actors.

In addition, there are production design drawings such as Harold Michelson's storyboards for "The Birds," costume sketches, plus original scripts and memos.

To round things out, the academy will screen new prints of Hitchcock's "Shadow of a Doubt" and "Lifeboat" in April.

"I really think Hitchcock is a lot like Walt Whitman in that they contradict themselves," says Will Schmenner, the Block Museum film curator who developed the thesis for the show three years ago.

"On one hand, Hitchcock is weaving these stories that he is the sole creator. But in the late 1930s, he wrote some really interesting articles for the British newspapers about how he works and talks about the process as being so collaborative," Schmenner says.

"If you look at how Hitchcock worked, he wanted to create a collective vision. He was always in discussion about his ideas and images with his collaborators."





WHERE: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Fourth Floor Gallery, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; ends April 20


INFO: (310) 247-3600,

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