Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sampling The Lodger (1927) The Hitchcock 9 restoration in 2K

The Lodger. A Story of the London Fog / Vuokralainen. GB 1927. Year of production: 1926. PC: Gainsborough Pictures. P: Michael Balcon. D: Alfred Hitchcock. Ass. D: Alma Reville. Käsikirjoitus: Eliot Stannard – based on the novel of Mrs. Belloc Lowndes. DP: Baron Ventimiglia. AD: C. Wilfred Arnold. ED and titling: Ivor Montagu. Title Design: E. McKnight Kauffer. Studio: Piccadilly, Islington. C: Ivor Montagu (the lodger), June (Daisy Bunting), Marie Ault (Mrs. Bunting, the landlady), Arthur Chesney (Mr. Bunting), Malcolm Keen (Joe Betts, police detective, Daisy's fiancé). The film was not theatrically released in Finland – vhs: 1995 Castle Communications – 2342 m, National Film Archive 1989 (tinted and toned): 2011 m
    The Hitchcock 9 restoration (BFI 2012). Restoration supervised by: Bryony Dixon, Kieron Webb. Picture Restoration: Ben Thompson, Peter Marshall. Film inspection and comparison: Angelo Lucatello. 20 fps. Several hundred hours were spent on the removal and repair of dirt and damage. Digital imaging systems have enabled the film’s original tinting and toning to be reproduced to far greater effect than was previously possible. Particular attention was paid to the night-time sequences set in thick fog which are toned blue and tinted amber. A restoration by the BFI National Archive in association with ITV Studios Global Entertainment, Network Releasing and Park Circus Films. Principal restoration funding provided by The Hollywood Foreign Press Association and The Film Foundation, and Simon W Hessel. Additional funding provided by British Board of Film Classification, Deluxe 142, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, and Ian & Beth Mill. Newly Commissioned score by Nitin Sawhney. Score performance by London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and Nitin Sawhney Band. Available on 35 mm and 2K DCP. Orion 2013: 2K DCP – 91 min

The Hitchcock 9 project of the BFI National Archive is one of the finest restoration projects of our times. I have now seen two of the films in their entirety, Blackmail (silent version), and The Pleasure Garden. I was impressed with the visual quality of the first one (which I have always seen in good prints anyway). The Pleasure Garden has become a more substantial film with the intelligent reconstruction job involved.

After a long day with many meetings I sampled 25 minutes of The Lodger only, but what I saw was very impressive, indeed. The Lodger has looked good before, for instance in the restored colour print I studied in 1989 in our previous complete Hitchcock retrospective, but I guess The Lodger has never looked better for a modern audience than in this brilliant BFI restoration.

The Lodger is always a surprising film. It's already a full-blooded Hitchcock film with familiar major themes (the wrong man, the chased chaser), motifs (staircase, bathtub, knife), and obsessions (golden curls). Ivor Novello is the first ambivalent Hitchcockian protagonist, a predecessor of the Cary Grant characters. The most striking feature is the vision of modernity. Hitchcock is close to Lang, inspired by the Mabuse films, and perhaps inspiring M. The appearance of the lodger brings to mind Murnau's Nosferatu. The empty spaces on the lodger's wall are uncanny. The lodger has ordered all portraits of golden-curled girls to be removed.

The vision of modernity is relevant to a Benjaminian analysis. Benjamin claimed Edgar Allan Poe was the first poet of the modern metropolis in "The Man of the Crowd". Here Hitchcock joins a remarkable tradition.

There is a joy of the cinema and its many means of expression. Although The Lodger is Hitchcock's third film, there is a feeling of a true debut film, a film made to show what I can do.

The audience was impressed, but there was a discussion about the songs in the soundtrack.

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