BFI’s ‘The Genius of Hitchcock’ press launch report

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Celebrating British culture is high on the agenda this year with the Olympics looming, and the BFI is doing their bit with an ambitious project to re-examine the works of Britain’s greatest film maker, Alfred Hitchcock – the biggest project the BFI has ever undertaken.

Running from June to October, The Genius Of Hitchcock will include screenings of all fifty-eight of his surviving films in cinemas across London and – perhaps most exciting of all – a restoration of the ‘Hitchcock 9’, his nine surviving silent films, several of which have had scores commissioned that will be played live during the screenings. Yesterday we went along to the press launch to see what surprises the master of suspense still has in store for us…

Creative Director of the BFI Heather Stewart was clear about the BFI’s mission to promote Hitchcock’s reputation. ‘Shakespeare is on the national curriculum; Hitchcock is not,’ she says, adding that the auteur may have been a victim of his skill at self-publicity. ‘Maybe this vulgarity, this showmanship sullied his reputation for some people; what would he be up to today with social media?’

Her introduction was followed by an interview with five composers who’ve written scores for Hitchcock’s restored silent films, Neil Brand, Mira Calix, Nitin Sawhney, Daniel Patrick Cohen and Soweto Kinch, who performed his score live on the trumpet.

On the experience of scoring Blackmail, Neil Brand says, ‘The wonderful thing with Hitchcock is that as soon as you score for him you’ve got these giants on whose shoulders you can stand, people like Bernard Herrmann.’

Then it was a Hitchcockian lunch based on some of the notorious gourmand’s favourite foods, including pint-sized Yorkshire puddings and – the star of the show – miniscule Quiche Lorraines. Though he was always making digs at eggs (one is even used as an ashtray in To Catch A Thief), Hitchcock was a big fan of Quiche Lorraine and even donates a recipe for it in The Dead Celebrity Cookbook (Frank DeCaro).

> Find out more on the BFI’s website.

What’s your favourite Hitchcock film? Let us know below…