The trailer to ‘The Lodger’.
Last week I watched an interesting documentary at the cinema about the interview and resulting friendship between Francois Truffaut and Alfred Hitchcock. The documentary was about Hitchcock’s genius as a film director, which until Truffaut sang his praises was largely being ignored and undermined.
After watching the documentary, I purchased, ‘The Lodger‘ which is Hitchcock’s first film with his recognisable style. (he had made several others films before this one; but this is the first movie that was all his own.)
This was made in 1926 and is silent. Hitchcock, keeps the text to a minimum, using clever composition and symbols to carry the narrative. This is film making at it’s purist and at the height of it’s craft. Although I am a still photographer, I look for ideas from the film makers who were inventing ideas that still photographers are today discussing and adopting.
In this image taken from the film, the lodger who is suspected as a serial killer looks out from his window and Hitchcock has cleverly cast a shadow of a crucifix on his face.
The film begins with this image, a girl is drowning, a victim of ‘The Avenger’. Hitchcock set the camera facing up under a plate of glass and got the girl to lay facing down over the glass a lens.
In this scene the lodger, Ivor Novello, is pacing up and down in his room disturbing the others in the house. Hitchcock, used a glass floor for Novello to walk on and super-imposed that image with the chandelier rocking by his heavy steps.
This was a cleaver idea, but Hitchcock didn’t think that it worked too well, he wanted the van to look like a face with the heads of the driver and mate as the eyes, the newspaper sign for a nose and the cars chrome bumper as the mouth.
As a story, perhaps a little naïve for today’s standards but enjoyable all the same. If you are interested in film making it has to be one to watch. Hitchcock couldn’t understand why with the advent of sound so much visual film making skills were quickly forgotten to be replaced with too much un-necessary dialogue. He was always the believer that if you could tell it in pictures why explain it with dialogue. It has been said that with a Hitchcock film, even his later ones, the story can still be followed with the sound turned down. Now that is an artist in my book!