The Ring
The Ring

1 August 2014, 22:00. "Strelka" Insitute, 14, bldg. 5A, Bersenevskaya Embankment (by invitations only)

Watch this film online HERE
Accreditation for press: Marina Chuykina, PR-manager, British Council Russia

UK 1927 108mins @20fps

The Ring will the opening film of the Moscow festival Hitchcock 9, and on this special occasion the screening will be accompanied by the music performance of the ensemble led by the award-winning alto-saxophonist and MC Soweto Kinch who is one of the most exciting and versatile young musicians in both the British jazz and hip hop scenes.

When the BFI approached me, I think they thought: 'Let's mix it up a little,'" said Kinch. "As a jazz musician and a hip-hop artist, I'm somebody melding the modern with the historical and the film does that too. It is tremendously resonant in the modern era by being set in a multiracial East London, and it offers a different take.

to the stereotypical view of relationships in those times. "Hitchcock claimed that, after The Lodger, this is the next ‘Hitchcock’ picture. The story is a love triangle between a fairground boxer whose lover falls for the charms of a professional fighter. This is Hitchcock's one and only original screenplay but its neatness and economy confirmed him as Britain’s leading filmmaker of his generation. Brilliantly evocative scenes set in the Royal Albert Hall underline Hitchcock’s love of London landmarks.

The Ring was Hitchcock’s sixth film as director and his first film at British International Pictures, and remarkably, his third film within a year. After directing Downhill and Easy Virtue, two stage adaptations, for the Gainsborough company, Hitchcock was frustrated and jumped at the chance to develop an idea of his own. Surprisingly, The Ring (1927) is Hitchcock’s one and only original screenplay, although he worked extensively alongside other writers throughout his career. 

Colleagues at the studio were impressed by the neatness of Hitchcock’s script and its writer’s grasp of structure. What’s more, writing for silent films came naturally to a director who already thought in visual terms. He was much less comfortable with dialogue, which goes some way to explain why he took no sole writing credit in any later films.

About the film

The Ring was Hitchcock’s sixth film as director and his first film at British International Pictures, and remarkably, his third film within a year. After directing Downhill and Easy Virtue, two stage adaptations, for the Gainsborough company, Hitchcock was frustrated and jumped at the chance to develop an idea of his own. Surprisingly, The Ring (1927) is Hitchcock’s one and only original screenplay, although he worked extensively alongside other writers throughout his career. Colleagues at the studio were impressed by the neatness of Hitchcock’s script and its writer’s grasp of structure. What’s more, writing for silent films came naturally to a director who already thought in visual terms. He was much less comfortable with dialogue, which goes some way to explain why he took no sole writing credit in any later films.

The film is a love triangle melodrama set in the world of boxing. Hitchcock was fascinated by the details of boxing, and had attended championship bouts at the Albert Hall, which appears in the film, constructed through a visual sleight of hand. The title refers not just to the boxing ring, but to the wedding ring which unites up-and-coming contender Jack ‘One Round’ Sander (Carl Brisson) and his girlfriend Mabel (Lilian Hall Davis), and to the threat to their relationship symbolised by an arm bracelet given to Mabel by Jack’s rival, Australian boxing champion, Bob (Ian Hunter).

A full-scale fairground was built on the studio lot, populated by hundreds of extras, giving Hitchcock ample scope to indulge his taste for visual tricks and distortions, later also glimpsed in the party scenes, prompting critic Jonathan Rosenbaum to describe The Ring as ‘the most Germanic in style’ of the silent films. Hitchcock’s fondness for the fairground milieu later surfaced in Saboteur (1942) and Strangers on a Train (1951).

The film also features some fine performances, notably from the dashing Danish lead Carl Brisson and Lilian Hall Davis, perhaps the most attractive and natural of his early heroines – and not one of the ‘Hitchcock blondes’. Brisson had in fact been an amateur boxer, and would appear again for Hitchcock in The Manxman (1929), before leaving for America where he was under contract to Paramount. Lilian Hall Davis brought a rare warmth and natural presence to the screen both here and in Hitchcock’s The Farmer’s Wife (1928). However she did not make a successful transition to the sound era and took her own life in 1933. The Ring marked Ian Hunter’s third appearance for Hitchcock after Downhill (1927) and Easy Virtue (1927), and he was frequently cast in his later career as a somewhat stolid leading man.

The Ring was shot by John J ‘Jack’ Cox, who was already an experienced ‘effects’ cameraman, but was encouraged by Hitchcock to experiment with new techniques. He shot all ten of Hitchcock’s features at British International Pictures and reunited with him on The Lady Vanishes (1938), a record only beaten by Hitchcock’s lengthy collaboration with virtuoso cameraman Robert Burks.

The Ring was hailed by reviewers as a ‘masterpiece’ by the Observer and by Iris Barry in the Daily Mail as ‘the greatest production ever made’ in England. Hitchcock described it to Truffaut only as a ‘succès d’estime’.

The restoration

The BFI National Archive received the original nitrate negative of The Ring from the Associated British Picture Corporation in 1959. The negative was already severely unstable and a new ‘fine grain’ positive was made immediately.

The restoration team, working with Deluxe 142, scanned this element at 2K resolution, and careful grading and manual restoration work enabled the removal of many of the defects of definition, contrast and warping inherent in the fine grain (the original negative was no longer extant). The intertitles have been painstakingly reconstructed

and an alphabet in the hand-crafted font of the original was created by scanning all the titles.

The music

Award-winning alto-saxophonist and MC, Soweto Kinch is one of the most exciting and versatile young musicians in both the British jazz and hip hop scenes. He has amassed an impressive list of accolades and awards on both sides of the Atlantic – including a Mercury Music Prize nomination, two UMA Awards and a 2003 MOBO for best Jazz Act. In 2007, he won his second MOBO Award, the winner in the best Jazz Act category, fending off stiff competition from the likes of Wynton Marsalis.

His skills as a hip hop MC and producer have also garnered him recognition in the urban music world: having supported the likes of KRS ONE, Dwele and TY, and being championed by the likes of Mos Def, Rodney P and BBC 1-Xtra’s Twin B. The Flyover Show is Soweto’s flagship project. Currently in its 4th year, this ground breaking day-long, music and arts festival takes place in its unusual setting beneath a motorway flyover in Birmingham. Featuring artists as diverse as Goldie, Akala and Omar the festival continues to build on its reputation, bringing world-class rostra to an often neglected corner of inner city Birmingham – its previous guests having included Bashy, Ms Dynamite, Janet Kay, Ty, Speech Debelle and Jonzi D to name a few.

Soweto’s latest album release The New Emancipation draws its inspiration from 19th century work songs and early blues, exploring the modern resonances of the emancipation story. From debt/wage slavery, to creative oppression in the music industry and ideas of race in a post- Obama age it combines this rich musical inheritance and revisits it with stellar jazz ensemble and modern hip hop production. Number one on the Rise Best Albums of 2010, the album features a prestigious international line up, including Byron Wallen, Justin Brown (US), Eska Mtungwazi, Femi Temowo, Shabaka Hutchings and Harry Brown among others.

Credits

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Production Company British International Pictures

Photography John J Cox Art Director C W Arnold

Cast: Carl Brisson ‘One Round’ Jack Sander Lilian Hall Davis The Girl Ian Hunter Bob Corby Forrester Harvey The Promoter Harry Terry The Showman Gordon Harker Jack’s Trainer

UK 1927 108mins @20fps