Saturday, October 12, 2019

Closing night: Film concert The Lodger (2017 score by Neil Brand) (Orchestra San Marco conducted by Ben Palmer) (2012 BFI restoration)

The Lodger. Orchestra San Marco conducted by Ben Palmer. Foto di Valerio Greco. Teatro Verdi, 12 Oct 2019. Source: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto 2019 / Flickr.

The Lodger, A Story of the London Fog (GB 1927). Ivor Novello, June Tripp. Photo: courtesy of Park Circus/ITV Studios.

Ben Palmer about to conduct Orchestra San Marco. Foto di Valerio Greco. Teatro Verdi, 12 Oct 2019. Source: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto 2019 / Flickr.

Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (GCM), Pordenone.
Closing Night.
Grand piano at the shorts: Gabriel Thibaudeau.
Teatro Verdi, e-subtitles in Italian by Underlight, 12 Oct 2019.

Flipbooks: Les deux baisers (FR 1896) from Edison Catalogue n:o 155: May Irwin Kiss (US 1896). Foto di Valerio Greco. Teatro Verdi, 12 Oct 2019. Source: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto 2019 / Flickr.

Early Cinema

Flipbooks: Les deux baisers (FR 1896) 42’’ (75 fotogrammi/frames, 12 fps): attribuito a/attributed to Edison, cat. no. 155 (1896), May Irwin Kiss.
Flipbooks: Arrivée du train (FR 1896), from Georges Méliès: Arrivée d'un train (Gare de Joinville) (FR 1896), Star-Film Catalogue n:o 35. Foto di Valerio Greco. Teatro Verdi, 12 Oct 2019. Source: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto 2019 / Flickr.

Flipbooks: Arrivée du train (FR 1896) 1’24’’ (121 fotogrammi/frames, 6 fps): attribuito a / attributed to Méliès, Star-Film cat. no. 35 (1896), Arrivée d’un train (Gare de Joinville). Non risultano conservate copie su pellicola / No film copies known to survive.

AA: Emblematic scenes from the genesis period in laconic reductions.

Fra Sabina (FR 1909) Photo: Nasjonalbiblioteket, Oslo / Mo i Rana

Fra Sabina (FR 1909). Foto di Valerio Greco. Teatro Verdi, 12 Oct 2019. Source: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto 2019 / Flickr.

[Fra Sabina, Italia] [From Sabina] (FR 1909) DCP, 3'01"
regia/dir: ?.photog: ?
prod: Pathé-Frères?
riprese/filmed: 1909.
dist (Norway): ? (Hans Berge, Framfilm).
copia/copy: DCP, 3’01” (da/from 35 mm, 18 fps, pochoir/stencil-colour); did./titles: NOR.
fonte/source: Nasjonalbiblioteket, Oslo/Mo i Rana.

Tina Anckarman (GCM): "In the shadows under the trees, near a dry creekbed, a herd of sheep is grazing. We can almost feel the laziness of the afternoon heat, and hear the buzzing of the cicadas. In the background we see an as-yet unidentified town in the vicinity of Tivoli. Next, a woman strolls around the ruins of the famous Villa Adriana (Hadrian’s Villa), enjoying the surroundings, and every now and then consults what must be a guidebook. She stops to talk to a man who points at the ruins. She is clearly a tourist visiting the historic site."

"This travelogue aims to give the viewer a glimpse of everyday rural life around Tivoli, among the Sabine Hills. Women carry big bundles of firewood on their heads; a man is selling his harvest by the side of the stone-paved road; at the town gate we see farmers on donkey carts. The female tourist sits down on the grass in the shadows under the old olive trees. Horses pick their way down a slope, and the herd of sheep is still grazing nearby. Truly a rural idyll…"

"This unidentified original footage was probably produced by Pathé around 1909. At the time of the film, the advanced technique of stencil colouring was not performed in Norway. The film was brought to Norway by the filmmaker Hans Berge, who distributed a large number of short foreign films in Norway via his company Framfilm. (We still don’t know the film’s original title, nor when it was shown in Norway.) Its original intertitles were replaced to describe the scenes to the Norwegian audience, who would have had little if any knowledge of the ancient ruins of the Villa Adriana. Hard rural labour, on the other hnd, would have been familiar to Norwegian viewers."

"About the DCP: The source, an original stencil-coloured nitrate print, was digitized in 2018." Tina Anckarman (GCM)

AA: Superbly photographed scenes in a great digital transfer, doing justice to the charming stencil colour.

The Lodger: the finale. Ivor Novello, June Tripp. Foto di Valerio Greco. Teatro Verdi, 12 Oct 2019. Source: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto 2019 / Flickr.

Neil Brand, the composer, and Ben Palmer, the conductor, accept our standing ovation. Foto di Valerio Greco. Teatro Verdi, 12 Oct 2019. Source: Le Giornate del Cinema Muto 2019 / Flickr.

Special Events
The Lodger, A Story of the London Fog.
GB 1927
regia/dir: Alfred Hitchcock.scen: Eliot Stannard, dal romanzo di/from the novel by Mrs. Belloc Lowndes.
photog: Baron Ventimiglia.
asst dir: Alma Reville.
scg/des: C. Wilfrid Arnold, Bertram Evans.
mont/ed, did./titles: Ivor Montagu.
title des: E. McKnight Kauffer.
cast: Marie Ault (the Landlady), Arthur Chesney (her husband), June [Tripp] (Daisy, their daughter), Malcolm Keen (Joe, a Police Detective), Ivor Novello (the Lodger).
riprese/filmed: 1926.
prod: Michael Balcon, Carlyle Blackwell, Gainsborough Pictures.
dist: W & F Film Service (GB), Piccadilly Pictures (worldwide).
copia/copy: DCP, 92′ (imbibito/tinted); did./titles: ENG.
fonte/source: Park Circus, Glasgow
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.
    Score: Neil Brand
    Performed live by: Orchestra San Marco, Pordenone – at the strength of 25 players.
    Conductor: Ben Palmer (Covent Garden Sinfonia, London)

Charles Barr (GCM): "This is Pordenone’s first Hitchcock screening since 1999, the centenary of his birth, when the full range of his surviving silent work was shown. A later landmark was the London Olympics year of 2012, which generated a parallel “Cultural Olympics”: cinema’s contribution to this enterprise was a new restoration by the BFI of the silents, linked to a big campaign promoting “The Genius of Hitchcock”. The new prints were shown in many countries, though not at Pordenone, which always has so much else to catch up on. But 20 years on is a good time to revisit his third feature (and the second to survive), The Lodger, in a luminous print, and with a new orchestral score by Neil Brand."

"The Genius of Hitchcock… One potentially reductionist aspect of the triumphant promotional work of 2012 was that it tended, in the accompanying literature as well as in the programming, to perpetuate the idea of Hitchcock as a self-sufficient auteur, floating free of his surroundings from the start. But what about the people he worked with?"

"The first name on the credits of The Lodger is Michael Balcon, Britain’s most important producer from the 1920s through to the 1950s. Three years Hitchcock’s senior, he launched him as a director, saw him move elsewhere for higher pay, then welcomed him back in the 1930s after his career lost momentum. It was Balcon’s co-production deals that gave him early experience in Germany, and Balcon who teamed him with his two formative scriptwriters: Charles Bennett, for the series of sound thrillers that relaunched him, and before that, Eliot Stannard, who wrote, solo or in partnership, all of the nine silent films prior to Blackmail – one of the solo credits, for “scenario”, being for The Lodger."

"Stannard died in 1944, a neglected figure who, unlike Bennett, left no account of how the collaboration with Hitchcock operated. But he had brought with him a wealth both of practical experience, and of lively ideas about – to use the title of his five-part series written for a trade paper in 1918 – “The Art of the Kinematograph”. Much of what he articulated in print, in and beyond that series, on topics like imagery and cross-cutting, is strikingly prophetic of Hitchcock’s own later discourse. Clearly it was an inspired match on both sides, teaming Stannard with a bright young man fully responsive to his ideas. Two other credits to note are Alma Reville (assistant director), who married Hitchcock in 1926, and a more intermittent collaborator in the cosmopolitan figure of Ivor Montagu (editing and titling), one of the prime movers of the Film Society in London, soon to liaise closely with Pudovkin and Eisenstein."

"Whoever did exactly what among this talented team – Montagu would later make some exaggerated claims about his own input – the resulting thriller was an instant success. Not quite instant, in fact, since the distributor held it back, seeing it as too arty, but as soon as it was shown it was welcomed by audiences and critics alike, and the young Hitchcock’s reputation was established."

"His first film, The Pleasure Garden, also with a solo writing credit for Stannard, had opened with a prophetic vignette, foregrounding the lascivious male gaze and the resentment of the woman subjected to it. The opening shot of The Lodger is the close-up of another young woman, screaming, the victim of a serial killer. Media and public are at once shown to be – like us in the audience – horrified but fascinated, and the film exploits this ambivalence with ruthless efficiency, teasing us with uncertainty as to whether the handsome lodger may be the killer, and the blonde daughter of the house, Daisy, a likely victim. Repeatedly we linger over tense close-ups of women. The first victim; an older woman, sadistically scared by a stranger; Daisy; other blondes; a new victim; and, most memorably, Daisy’s mother, as she listens with growing anxiety to the lodger’s night-time movements in a classic lengthy scene of silent-film narrative."

"Hitchcock directed other kinds of film after this one, and it was several years before the distinctive category of “Hitchcock thriller” began to emerge. But so much of the mature Hitchcock is already here in The Lodger. To use his own formula: “putting the woman through it”. Male violence, twisted sexuality, astute manipulation of the audience; the “wrong man” narrative. For what turned out to be his penultimate film, Frenzy (1972), he would make a sentimental return to London for a loose kind of remake, taking advantage of colour and of laxer censorship – but without remotely eclipsing the hallucinatory power of this silent Story of the London Fog from 1927." Charles Barr (GCM)

The score 

Neil Brand (GCM): "The Lodger has always fascinated me (I wrote a film script in 2012 about Hitchcock and Novello filming it), but only as a milestone on Hitch’s journey to greatness. To me, when playing it, it has always felt uneven, and Novello too florid a bird of paradise to be descending on this dowdy London boarding-house. But then in 2016 Criterion asked me to score it – and all that changed."

"I knew that Ben Palmer and his Covent Garden Sinfonia would play it wonderfully and I scored it for 12 players, still trying to maintain the big “Hitchcock” sound. My friend and mentor Timothy Brock suggested two violas to give extra depth to the strings, and I brought in the piano and percussion to handle the chases and sudden shocks. Horn, flute, clarinet, and bassoon would give me the deep, contemplative music I needed – and the line-up was complete. I had the tools to try to match Hitch’s demands."

"My main task, I felt, was to give a consistent, chilly through-line to the film which would make the mood swings less obtrusive – also to tread a similar line as Hitch with Novello – that his character remains gorgeously seductive as well as potentially lethal."

"I wanted the audience on the back foot throughout, so made the score ask questions it didn’t set out to answer, to keep the audience guessing until Daisy and the Lodger did finally fall into each other’s arms – and even then to maintain a nagging doubt…"

"I owe Ben Palmer a huge debt of gratitude for taking a chance on both the score and me – I am delighted he is with us tonight to conduct it, as he has done so brilliantly on every previous occasion!"

"Enjoy the ride!" Neil Brand (GCM)


AA: Revisited The Lodger and its beautiful 2012 BFI restoration ("Hitchcock 9") which I had only sampled before. I blogged about our screening of The Lodger in 2013 in our Alfred Hitchcock retrospective when we showed it with the newly commissioned score by Nitin Sawhney.


Copying data about the 2012 restoration:

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.


The 2012 restoration looked particularly luminous tonight at Teatro Verdi. The restoration is not a case of "from bad to great". I have always seen great screenings of The Lodger, and I studied closely the then recent photochemical BFI restoration of The Lodger in 1989 for the first complete Alfred Hitchcock retrospective in Finland. The original tinting and toning was very impressive even then. But the fine care, polish and attention to smoothness in images, transitions and details here makes a difference. This restoration is a case of "from great to brilliant".


The score we heard six years ago was that of Nitin Sawhney, but in 2017 The Criterion Collection released the film with a brand new Neil Brand score. Let's hope it sticks and also DCPs will be equipped with it.

I also hope that DCPs will be made available of Hitchcock's Blackmail the silent version with the Neil Brand score. I have blogged about that score in Blackmail's 2013 Midnight Sun Film Festival screening and in Blackmail's 2008 Bologna premiere.

Starting with Rebecca, Hitchcock worked with the best composers: Franz Waxman, Dimitri Tiomkin, Alfred Newman, Frank Skinner, Miklos Rozsa, Roy Webb, Richard Addinsell, Leighton Lucas, Bernard Herrmann, John Addison, Maurice Jarre, Ron Goodwin, and John Williams. It is striking that there is a consistent "Hitchcock sound of suspense" with all of them.

Neil Brand joins their number, and I hope he'll compose scores to all of the "Hitchcock 9".


Orchestra San Marco, conducted by Ben Palmer, played at the strength of 25 musicians. The mood was immediately evoked with agitato passages and anticipations of suspense and adventure. There is a joy of storytelling in the score, with room for action and romance. Neil Brand has a jazz-like pleasure in swing and groove. He builds a musical world in tune with the various milieux and circumstances of foggy nocturnal London, from the parlour to the pub.


The Lodger was the first film Hitchcock directed in Britain. His two first films he made in Munich, Germany, at the studios of Emelka, celebrating its centenary this year as Bavaria Film. The German influence is prominent: clearly Hitchcock had been impressed by Lang and Murnau whose Faust, made the year before, we have just seen in Pordenone. Perhaps the Dostoevskyan emphasis on the transference of guilt was reinforced via Weimar cinema. Certainly Hitchcock must have known also Das Wachsfigurenkabinett which ends with a Jack the Ripper sequence. But The Lodger resonates also with Weimar films made afterwards: Die Büchse der Pandora, also ending with Jack the Ripper – and Fritz Lang's M, ending with a sequence of mob justice.

I believe that the German influence for Hitchcock was personal and a key aspect in his becoming a "premature anti-Fascist" in the 1930s. His political thrillers and his cycle of films featuring "Übermensch" killers had a particular sense of urgency.

With The Lodger Hitchcock may have created the cinema's first major serial killer thriller, or can anyone suggest an earlier contender? Fritz Lang's M came second.

In this film the director for the first time created "a Hitchcock thriller". The next one would be Blackmail, and starting with The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) Hitchcock would focus on this special brand of his. Before that he tried everything possible, even a musical.

Every time it is amazing to observe how much was already in place in The Lodger: the chased chaser, the transference of guilt. And every time different associations arise. This time, watching Ivor Novello, I was seeing superimposed David Bowie (who died three years ago), Anthony Perkins (in Psycho) and Karl Boehm (Peeping Tom: the restless walk upstairs, here expressed in superimposition). I was thinking about Hitchcock's "absent protagonists": we never meet Rebecca, we never meet Madeleine Elster, and in The Lodger, we never meet The Avenger.

Tonight was the best ever experience of The Lodger.


AA Facebook capsule:

Neil Brand​'s magisterial score crowned the presentation of Alfred Hitchcock's The Lodger. I hope this score will be added to the DCP and that all "Hitchcock 9" silents will be scored by Brand. Performed with panache by Orchestra San Marco, conducted by Ben Palmer.


"Even if he is a bit queer, he's a gentleman."

The Lodger marks also the beginning of Hitchcock's fascination with queer protagonists and queer talent, first discussed by Robin Wood, author of the first serious English-language study on Hitchcock. Ivor Novello was England's biggest male star, also a great songwriter (starting with "Keep the Home Fires Burning", 1914), playwright and author of musicals. Cecil Beaton's phrase "the Ivor/Noel naughty set" referred to Ivor Novello and Noël Coward.

In the casting of Ivor Novello and in many other things Hitchcock was influenced by Graham Cutts. The Rat (co-written by Novello) is a film whose impact can be seen in The Lodger, Downhill, Easy Virtue, Blackmail and To Catch a Thief.

Suomessa rooliin olisi sopinut Tulio.

In the "male gaze" discourse it has been obvious that Hitchcock had a "double gaze" because he made all films in tandem with his wife Alma (whom he married after The Lodger and with whom he had collaborated since Woman to Woman). There is the male gaze and the female gaze. Watching The Lodger I was thinking that Hitchcock also possessed a queer gaze.

Neil Brand 31.10.2019 klo 13.25: Antti Alanen I think there's no doubt about that at all, fully developed later with Cary Grant.

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