Hitchcock’s Lodger

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The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog, 1927

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1927 silent film The Lodger is regarded as the first true Hitchcock film, “the first time Hitchcock has revealed his psychological attraction to the association between sex and murder, between ecstasy and death.” It’s the story of an innocent man mistaken for a serial killer, a young woman who falls for him, her suspicious parents, a jealous lover and the police.

A new BFI restoration of this important film shows the cinematography by Baron Ventimiglia with its original colour tinting and it’s all startlingly beautiful.

Right back to the time of Méliés at the start of the 20th century, films were tinted by hand, sometimes frame-by-frame. This gave a beauty and warmth to the prosaic tones of black & white, but it was laborious and expensive, especially since every print of a film had to be tinted this way. But in 1921 a new product arrived that changed the situation. “Kodak introduced pre-tinted stocks, with stained cellulose base, rather than a dyed emulsion upon the base. The colours available originally were lavender, red, green, blue, pink, light amber, dark amber, yellow, and orange.” 

By the late twenties, the tinted film was phased out due to cost and other reasons, but this version of Hitchock’s film is a memorial to that era. Before sound, movies had a more direct emotional impact on audiences and coloured scenes played their part in setting the audience’s mood.

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