Sight & Sound: the August 2012 issue

The genius of Alfred Hitchcock: Guillermo del Toro on the Master of Suspense; plus Christopher Nolan, Patricio Guzmán, Bruce Lacey, Boris Barnet, Wolfgang Suschitzky and Andrew Kötting’s Swandown.

“I revisit Hitchcock’s films more than I do those of any other filmmaker, except perhaps Buñuel. I visit them like the faithful visit the Ganges. I bathe in Hitchcock, the infinite and merciful.”

So writes Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, beginning his essay ‘Lessons in Darkness’ for our new August special issue, devoted to the genius of Alfred Hitchcock. And it turns out (of course) that he’s not the only one, as Del Toro recounts the many directors who have wallowed in the master’s defining influence – from his edge-of-seat shots of men ascending staircases, and ‘pure cinema’ embrace of sound and colour, to his biting subversions of idyllic Americana. And yet – despite the master’s deceptively articulate, approachable persona – Del Toro nominates many avenues of Hitchcock study yet to be taken… 

Overleaf, in the best description of the painstaking process of film restoration we’ve read, the BFI’s Bryony Dixon takes us through the whys and hows of restoring ‘The Hitchcock Nine’ – the surviving 90 per cent of Hitchcock’s British silent movies, which we reintroduce.

Present-day British master of Hollywood Christopher Nolan is back in view this month with the release of his latest Batman extravaganza, The Dark Knight Rises, as well as a retrospective at the BFI Southbank. Modern Hitchcock, or a mere fanboy technician? The answer “depends on the degree to which you consider the term ‘adolescent’ to be pejorative,” writes Joseph Bevan, parsing the strengths and weakness of Nolan’s world.

Elsewhere in this issue, about his breathtaking study of the stars (and Chilean history) Nostalgia for the Light; William Fowler surveys the unique work of filmmaker and performance artist Bruce Lacey, while Jeremy Deller and Nick Abrahams pay tribute; Mark Le Fanu looks at silent candidates for our Greatest Film of All Time poll, notably The House of Trubnaya Street, by Soviet charmer Boris Barnet; and Patrick Russell holds counsel with centenarian cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzy



Cover feature: The genius of Hitchcock

Since his twenties, when he wrote a book about Hitchcock, Pan’s Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro has returned to his films again and again. He offers a director’s POV on what we can learn from the master.

PLUS Bryony Dixon on the restoration of the ‘Hitchcock nine’

Escape artist

In the space of just over a decade, Christopher Nolan has shot from promising British indie director to undisputed master of a new brand of intelligent escapism. Joseph Bevan surveys his body of work.

Get Suschitzky

Wolfgang Suschitzky’s unforgettable cinematography on Get Carter is just the tip of the iceberg in a career embracing documentary, industrial film and still photography. As the great man turns 100, Patrick Russell looks back over his career.


Filmmaker and performance artist Bruce Lacey has been ‘playing silly buggers’ for over half a century. To coincide with a BFI retrospective, William Fowler assesses his legacy.

PLUS artist Jeremy Deller and filmmaker Nick Abrahams on how Lacey’s anarchic spirit inspired their film portrait of the artist.

Revolutionary road

In the last of our countdowns to next month’s ‘Greatest Films of All Time’ poll, Mark Le Fanu sings the praises of Boris Barnet’s silent contender The House on Trubnaya Street.

Desert of the disappeared

Now 70, the radical Chilean director Patricio Guzmán is back with the wonderful Nostalgia for the Light, which links the hidden history of his homeland to the secrets of the stars. He talks to Chris Darke.



David Thomson pays tribute to the late great US critic Andrew Sarris.

Nick Bradshaw on music doc Searching for Sugar Man and how apartheid fostered the legend of a lost 1970s rock prophet.

Charles Gant on how The Angels’ Share paid off north of the border.

Nick James joins Andrew Kötting and Iain Sinclair for a journey into London’s Olympic heartlands. See our extended online transcript.

Melanie Williams welcomes the reissue of 1957 kitchen-sink sensation Woman in a Dressing Gown.

Kieron Corless talks to Lola Doillon about kidnap drama In Your Hands.

Nick Roddick ponders the changing nature of film festivals.


Films reviewed in this issue

Film of the month

A Simple Life


Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best
The Chernobyl Diaries
Comes a Bright Day
Dr Seuss’ The Lorax
Eames: The Architect and the Painter
El Bulli: Cooking in Progress
Electrick Children
A Fantastic Fear of Everything
The Giants
God Bless America
Harold’s Going Stiff
The Hunter
I Am Bruce Lee
In Your Hands
Lay the Favourite
Magic Mike
Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present
Nostalgia for the Light
Personal Best
Ping Pong
The Players
Requiem for a Killer
Revenge of the Electric Car
Rock of Ages
Searching for Sugar Man
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
7 Days in Havana
Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap
The Soul of Flies
Storage 24
Strawberry Fields
Tortoise in Love
Wagner’s Dream
Where Do We Go Now?
You’ve Been Trumped


DVD features

Michael Brooke welcomes a full-length release for Kenneth Lonergan’s thrillingly ambitious Margaret

Tim Lucas revisits Jack Arnold’s 1958 classic The Space Children


The All-American Boy
Bell, Book and Candle
A Bullet for the General
Films starring Doris Day
The Devil’s Needle & Other Tales of Vice and Redemption
Earth 2
The Execution of Private Slovik
Force of Evil
The House by the Cemetery
Justice – Series 1
King of New York
The Rafi Pitts Collection
The Red House
Three Melodramas by Yasujiro Ozu


Nick Pinkerton savours the last word on Frank Tashlin

Chris Darke is intrigued by the ‘behavioural codes’ of filmgoing

Sophie Mayer is absorbed by an in-depth study of the WhedonVerse

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