How might it feel to have witnessed the birth of a film legend? The evolution from no-name to household name laid out before your eyes in a smattering of hot white light and photographic film? Thanks to the British Film Institute and the Northwest Film Center, Portlanders will have the opportunity to experience this throughout the month of October.
After painstaking restorations, the British Film Institute has rereleased Alfred Hitchcock’s nine earliest directorial endeavors, including his debut film The Pleasure Garden (1925) for a touring review. Now, thanks to the NWFC and the partnership of Portland State’s English Department, the Hitchcock 9 are being presented as an overlapping part of Portland’s annual music-themed film festival, Reel Music Fest 31 in October.
In light of this, it makes sense that Portland’s Hitchcock 9 showings will hold one significant difference from other showings around the globe: the addition of live music.
“These are silent films,” said Nick Bruno, PR and marketing associate with NWFC. “Either there would be live musical accompaniment when they were originally presented back in the 1920s, or a specific score was written per film for interpretation. In this case, we wanted people to not have the experience that they would normally expect to have when coming to see a silent film with live music…that nostalgia, piano, song-and-dance sort of scene.”
This stems from the ideas of NWFC director Bill Foster, who wanted the presentation of the Hitchcock 9 to not fit into this nostalgic box, instead striving for a fresher, more eclectic experience.
“[Foster] wanted to force more adventurous ensembles…I think we ended up with quite a few,” said Bruno.
As intended, Portland’s show ings of Hitchcock’s films promise to be more adventurous than one might expect. The end product is a roster of various Portland artists and musicians whose playing styles range from classic jazz to experimental world chamber music, with acts such as The Bill Marsh Ensemble and 3 Leg Torso leading the charge.
Among the films being presented as a part of the Hitchcock 9 are such classics as Blackmail (1929), accompanied by 3 Leg Torso and Mark Orton, The Ring (1927) accompanied by Tara Jane O’Neil, and The Lodger (1927)—“the first true Hitchcock movie” as stated by Hitchcock himself, which also introduced several of the various tropes and motifs that became common in his films after the director’s auteur establishment. The Lodger will be be scored by David Goldblatt and the Superjazzers, and will also feature an introduction by Dr. Amy Borden, assistant professor of film studies at PSU.
Students and movie lovers alike can expect to experience the full excitement of watching Alfred Hitchcock find his own voice and unique style as a young artist, accompanied by a plethora of Portland’s talented musical outfits, when the Hitchcock 9 hits the NWFC Oct. 12.