I saw the 1954 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much as a youngster in my hometown movie theater in Guanabo, Cuba. Hitchcock has remained my favorite director. I know that his fifty-three movies are not all good, but many are still among the most visually intelligent and inventive films that I know.
In my last project and book, Flowers for Lisa, I ended the series with a picture of a nosegay, similar to the one that Kim Novak buys in Vertigo. This reference to a moment in one of his films made me think I could start making a series of other photographs that play with and riff off his movies’ visuals, moods and psychology. In the case of the Vertigo flower picture, I was pretty faithful to Hitchcock’s scene. In other photographs in this series, my references approach the original in a more oblique way. At times, I have gone beyond all that, by my making what I call Imaginary Film Stills – pictures from movies he never made but put together by my imagination under his spell.
Funny how in trying to make a sort of a copy I have discovered subject matter, photographic approaches and new ways of putting things together that I would not have considered before. To me, many of these pictures don’t look exactly like they are mine. Maybe it’s a new Abe emerging!
“We have forgotten why Joan Fontaine leans over the edge of a cliff and why Joel McCrea went to Holland. We have forgotten what Montgomery Clift swore to be eternally silent about and why Janet Leigh stops at the Bates Motel and why Teresa Wright is still in love with Uncle Charlie. We forgot what Henry Fonda is not completely guilty of and exactly why the American government hired Ingrid Bergman. But we remember a handbag. But we remember a bus in the desert. But we remember a glass of milk, the blades of a windmill, a hairbrush. But we remember a row of bottles, a pair of glasses, a music score, a clutch of keys. Because, through them, and with them, Alfred Hitchcock succeeded where Alexander, Julius Caesar, Hitler, Napoleon failed: he took control of the universe.”
Jean-Luc Godard on Hitchcock