I saw the 1954 version of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much with my parents when I was eight or nine in my hometown movie theater in Guanabo, Cuba. I have been a fan ever since. Hitchcock is my favorite director. I know that not all of his fifty-three movies are great or even good, but many are still among the most visually intelligent and inventively structured films that I know.
In my last project and book, Flowers for Lisa, I ended the series with a picture of a flower nosegay, similar to the one that Kim Novak buys in a florist shop in Vertigo to deceive Jimmy Stewart. This reference to an object within a moment in this particular movie made me think that I could start making a new series of photographs that visually riff on interesting frames from other Hitchcock films. In the case of the Vertigo flower picture, I was pretty faithful to Hitchcock’s scene. In others of my renditions here I have quoted from the original in more oblique ways. At times, I have gone beyond all that, by my making what I call Imaginary Film Stills – picture inventions from movies he never made but rather assembled in my imagination under his spell.
Hitchcock often evoked gripping suspense out of his unique cinematic handling of space, people and things even in the most ordinary of settings. Often, he did this in purely visual ways. It’s been said that many of his movies work even when the sound is turned off. In my photographs I have tried to produced an equivalent suspense and mystery like those that he provided his audience countless times.
It’s 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. In some ways these works don’t exactly look like my other pictures to date- maybe it’s a good thing!
“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.”