Cornerhouse present… The Genius of Hitchcock: The Lodger

By Robert Johnson, MM film columnist

Cornerhouse, our guardian angel of cinema, has delivered us yet another unmissable treat...

Calling all aspiring filmmakers…calling all aspiring film makers…I know you’re out there, I’ve seen you.

Lurking in the back row of your independent short film nights or hiding behind your parents during university graduate shows.

I know you’re out there and I know you’re hungry, I’ve seen your work. It’s very, very good.

All you need to do is keep feeding that every expanding film brain. Keep it fed, watered and inspired.

Who better to inspire such a brain than the genius that was Alfred Hitchcock? He was like you once and look what happened to him!

Cornerhouse, our guardian angel of cinema, has delivered us yet another unmissable treat.

On Saturday night, for one night only, it is presenting a live satellite broadcast of ‘The Lodger’, Alfred Hitchcock’s third silent feature. An unquestionable masterpiece recently restored to its former glory by the bods at the BFI.

As if that wasn’t worth the entry fee alone the film is also accompanied by a specially composed score written and performed by Nitin Sawnhey and the London Symphony Orchestra.

Based loosely on the tale of Jack the Ripper, ‘The Lodger’ takes us back to the dark and foggy streets of the East End and to Mrs Bunting’s guest house.

All is well and business is good until the mysterious Jonathan Drew arrives to let a room. He is silent, secretive and fond of the odd midnight ramble. Its only when these nocturnal excursions start to coincide with the spate of violent murders happening around the foggy streets of London that suspicions are aroused.

The Bunting’s don’t trust this punk one bit and they want him investigated and out. But what’s this, Complications?Our possible serial killer has only gone and caught the eye of the Bunting’s daughter Daisy! (Teenage girls and bad boys eh?).

Is our lodger misunderstood or is he, in fact, luring the impressionable Daisy into his web of murder? Will she be his next victim or will her detective boyfriend, Joe, man-up, solve the case and get shot of ‘The Avenger’ once and for all? Well, I’m not going to tell you, you’ll have to come to the Cornerhouse on Saturday.

Where to begin with a discussion of ‘The Lodger’. Heavily influenced by the German Expressionist movement the film makes excellent use of shadows, light and expressionist make up and performance.

We may watch Ivor Novello and want to laugh at what we now consider ‘over-acting’ but he was the movie star of the day and this was the acting style. It’s a country mile away from ‘The Method’ but is his portrayal any less affecting? Is he any less sinister for it? I think not and it’s a performance that, for me, opens up the debate on how much the advent of sound changed the direction of film language and whether or not it was a positive thing. But don’t get me started on that.

Then, of course, there is the man himself. Watch the birth of a genius and watch his early attempts to drag you into the palm of his hand and torment you like a wolf cub playing with its prey.

This was his third feature but is often described as the first ‘Hitchcock Film’ and involves his three favourite things, suspense, murder and blondes. He was mastering the art of horror like no one else had ever done or has done since and this is a brilliant opportunity to witness it. If you’re a cinephile, come along and enjoy.

If you’re a film maker then do yourself a favour, deconstruct every scene and analyse every shot because there isn’t a university or a college out there that can offer a masterclass like this.

‘The Lodger’ screens at Cornerhouse this Saturday night at 19.15. It’s £15 or £13.50 concessions and it will be money well spent. Click here for more details.

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