Hitchcock and Kokoro at Bournemouth

BOURNEMOUTH’s new music ensemble Kokoro will be playing live to accompany a screening of Blackmail, a classic silent Hitchcock thriller at Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival, on Sunday 15th October at 8pm at Pavilion Dance.

The event is the closing event of the first annual Short Sounds Film Festival, celebrating the sound of cinema  Led by principal conductor and artistic advisor Mark Forkgen, nine members of Kokoro will perform the commissioned score by British composer Jonathan Lloyd to accompany this masterpiece from the master of suspense.

The film was recently restored by specialists at the British Film Institute (BFI) as part of a project to restore nine of Hitchcock’s early silent movies. It was the biggest venture of its kind undertaken by the BFI.

Hitchcock’s first ten silent films, of which nine survive, are little known compared to his later works yet are among the greatest achievements of British silent cinema. The importance of these films is shown by their addition to the UK’s section of the UNESCO Memory of the World register, an archive of cultural treasures that includes the Domesday book.

Blackmail is based on the play by Charles Bennett and tells the story of a woman who kills a man in self-defence but then falls victim to a blackmailer. It stars Polish actress Anny Ondra and John Longden in the leading roles.

The mixture of location filming and line-up of believable working-class characters combined to make Blackmail a success, not only as a thriller but as a vivid portrayal of London life.

The film featured Hitchcock’s first true set-piece – a gripping chase through the British Museum and up onto its domed roof, made possible by blending location shooting with special effects.

Blackmail is also notable for being the first full-length British ‘talkie,– originally a silent film it was re-shot with an almost complete soundtrack, making Hitchcock the first British director to embrace the addition of sound to cinema.

The silent version which will be screened at Kokoro’s performance is rarely seen, but for many film critics and historians, it remains the superior work and highlights Hitchcock’s mastery of storytelling through images alone.

Now in its seventh year, Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival runs from 14th to 21st October, celebrating the performing and visual arts.