What is Alfred Hitchcock afraid of?

Alfred Hitchcock, the master of fear, was fearful himself

The 45-second long murder scene from "Psycho" was filmed for seven days in 70 camera positions with a naked model and twelve shower curtains in the back of an overheated studio; while the beautiful woman screamed and moaned, the stout man in a dark suit with a white shirt and tie hovered high above her on a platform and gave his polite instructions.

This picture-perfect Englishman has never been loud. A sideways glance, a raised eyebrow was enough to put his crew on alert. Only once did he lose his temper: When his discovery Tippi Hedren ("The Birds") told him he was fat.

Anyone who had only known Hitchcock as a private individual would never have guessed that because of him, millions no longer dared go into the basement, the shower or the bird aviary. Hitchcock was happily married to assistant director Alma for 54 years, he was the proud father of a daughter, he was extremely neat and tidy and went to mass every Sunday. There was nothing conspicuous to report about him, except perhaps that he sometimes fell asleep from one moment to the next, once even in conversation with Thomas Mann.

So how could this man of all people make such films? It was probably the case that it was precisely the stability of his personal circumstances that gave him the strength to devote his life entirely to cinema. Hitchcock, born in 1899, was part of the film business from the very beginning. As a twenty-year-old he wrote subtitles for silent films and later learned to direct in the Ufa Studios in Babelsberg.

Besides his highly developed sense of dramaturgy, it was above all his psychological instinct that made him a genius. The theme of almost all of his films is fear. Hitchcock himself was terrified of the police: as a little boy he was once locked in a cell by a bobby for fun. Above all, however, he attributed his fears to his strict Catholic upbringing. He saw "The Birds" as a vision of the Last Judgment on humanity, which made him unusually nervous during the filming.

Much has been written about his relationship with women. He always cast the female lead with blondes who at first seem aloof and superior, but then are deeply humiliated. He understood the shower murder in "Psycho" as a rape scene. It is possible that he acted out secret wishes in the film. At least that's how it says in his authorized biography. The film critic John Russell Taylor writes there: "A less correct and moral person would probably have much greater inhibitions about allowing his private complexes to become so clearly visible in his films."