'Anvil' director focuses on the master of suspense

After debuting with Anvil, Sacha Gervasi now focuses on the master of suspense.

“Anvil was a movie that I self-financed and that I edited in my kitchen,” says Sacha Gervasi of his enduring rockumentary and directorial debut. “I had no idea that a) it would really be released or that b) it would have the impact that all these years later it still seems to have. Little did I know that the producers of Hitchcock would become fans of it.”

Placed in contention alongside a series of far more established names, Gervasi thought he had little chance of landing the role yet his ideas and passion for the project saw him triumph. His background also gave him an unlikely head start with his cast.

“I met Anthony Hopkins for lunch at an Italian restaurant and the first thing he said was that he loved Anvil,” he continues, still slightly awestruck. “I never thought for a million years that he’d be a fan of Anvil, but he was - as was Helen Mirren.”

Hopkins and Mirren deliver dazzling performances as Hitchcock and Alma Reville, the director’s wife and great creative companion. The film focuses on two largely unknown stories - Reville’s substantial input into Hitchcock’s filmmaking career, and the struggles that he endured in getting his classic movie Psycho made.

“I knew all about Hitchcock’s genius and the way that he’d invented new techniques in filmmaking and his tremendously complicated relationship with actors, but what I didn’t know was that his greatest collaborator was his wife,” admits Gervasi. “It was the untold story. I knew it was provocative and it would elicit a strong feeling from people because a lot of people are invested in Hitchcock being a certain kind of auteur.”

The resistance to Psycho being made resulted in Hitchcock investing $850,000 of his own money in the project - a phenomenal personal investment now, let alone in 1959. Circumstances dictated that Hitchcock was effectively an unlikely underdog. As Gervasi continues: “It’s the story of a great artist, who’s sixty-years-old, young directors are nipping at his heels and he wants to feel young and alive again so he takes this crazy risk against the advice of everyone in his life. It was this idea of yearning to be alive that that I was really drawn to.”

Gervasi argues that the film isn’t intended to be a searing docu-drama about the mechanics of making Psycho - it’s intended to entertain an audience. Provocative, entertaining and amusing, it achieves precisely that.

Words by Ben Hopkins




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