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Restored Hitchcock silents to premiere at London Olympics

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, July 4, 2011 17:33 EDT
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LONDON — Restored silent Hitchcock films will be screened complete with new orchestral scores as part of the build-up to the 2012 London Olympic Games, the British Film Institute announced Monday.

The 1920s classics are being cleaned up and restored to create perfect-as-possible digital versions that will premiere during the Cultural Olympiad, a programme of events surrounding the Games.

Hitchcock is a fitting choice for the London 2012 Festival, the finale of the Cultural Olympiad, as he hailed from Leytonstone in east London, a short walk away from the Olympic Park in Stratford.

Indian-British composer Nitin Sawhney will contribute a score to the 1926 film “The Lodger: A Story Of The London Fog”, which will be performed by him with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Recent Royal Academy of Music graduate Daniel Cohen will compose a score for the 1925 film “The Pleasure Garden”, Hitchcock’s first as a director. Like Hitchcock at the time, Cohen is in his 20s.

Composer Tansy Davies has been commissioned to score another early film, and further commissions may follow.

“This is a dream project for me,” Sawhney said, calling it “a wonderful opportunity for creative imagination and invention”.

“Hitchcock is a director whose shadow any composer would be proud to stand in.”

Long before his Hollywood breakthrough, Hitchcock made his name in British silent cinema, with cleverly-crafted black-and-white tales of suspense and mystery, honing the trademarks cherished in later classics.

However, the fragile 1920s analogue film reels have deteriorated and the BFI is undertaking a mammoth project to restore Hitchcock’s silent movies to their former glory in digital form before it is too late.

“Hitchcock is one of the great artists of the 20th century. His contribution to world cinema is immense,” said BFI creative director Heather Stewart.

“The BFI is thrilled to be able to bring Hitchcock’s early films to the London 2012 Festival.

“They are the foundation of his whole body of work and new audiences will be able to enjoy them for the first time ever in all their restored glory and with new scores from an incredible mix of British musical talent.”

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Agence France-Presse
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