Thursday, April 12, 2001

The Lodger (1926) - A surprising look on a promising Career…

Submitted by Sebastien Smith

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

I saw the silent film "The Lodger," part of the Alfred Hitchcock, Fatal Coincidences exposition on December 8th 2000, presented at the cinematheque Quebecoise in Montreal. Despite the fact that "The Lodger" was created in 1926, it is filled with surprises and tension.

A psychopathic killer, whose victims are always young blonde women, is on the loose in London. The murders occur only on Tuesday evenings. A landlady and a jealous man who is in love with the main female character begin to wonder if the new lodger (Ivor Novello) is the murderer. It is on this uncertainty that the suspense turns, Hitchcock's concern is not with the murders themselves, but with the observation of the characters and the way in which the story unfolds, even in the most ordinary settings. He felt that he had found his niche in the creation of suspense and tension through visual means. "Suspense," Hitchcock said, "as opposed to mystery, is giving information to an audience in order to make them worry. Whereas mystery is merely withholding information."

This motion picture is a surprising look forty years ahead of it's time. We already see some topics that will become part of the Hitchcockian style. Beautiful blond women, a symmetry and a geometry that is virtually perfect, a long, heavy and arduous mood that begins in a nerve racking sequence of a woman screaming (similar to Janet Leigh in Psycho). In this film we can already see the strong influence German expressionism had on the British director.

I was blown away at a relatively simple detail, and not as particular compared to the amplitude of this powerful thriller, this is a sequence of animation. Put yourself in that time, animation being invented only a few years prior, but no filmmaker had ever successfully fused the two in filmmaking, this was for me a true achievement and such a surprising thing to see.

"The Lodger" was accompanied by a pianist on location. He, amazingly, had the ability to recreate a rich, subtle sounds filled with small details that incorporate anguish and context in a very powerful and logical height.


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