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The Independent (11/Jul/2013) - Alfred Hitchcock's silent films join UNESCO cultural archive




Alfred Hitchcock's silent films join UNESCO cultural archive

The surviving nine films join 10 items including the Domesday Book to represent the best of the UK's cultural heritage

Alfred Hitchcock’s nine surviving silent films have been added to a UNESCO archive that includes the Domesday Book, to represent the UK’s cultural heritage.

The surviving nine films will feature in the UNESCO UK Memory of the World register, which aims to “reflect the richness of UK culture and history, from medieval manuscripts to ground-breaking cinema.”

Hitchcock’s silent films have been added to the online register alongside ten other items including Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal and works by Thomas Hardy.

The surviving nine films, which have been digitally restored with the help of the British Film Institute (BFI), include The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog, Downhill, Easy Virtue, The Ring, The Farmer's Wife, Champagne, The Manxman and Blackmail.

The official inscription on the UNESCO register acknowledges the value of Hitchcock’s silent films, which were his first works.

It states: “While Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most famous film directors of all time, his first ten silent films - nine of which survive - are little known compared to his later work.

“These films are among the greatest achievements of British silent cinema, and are blueprints for the rest of his body of work.”

Robin Baker, head curator at the BFI National Archive, said: “Film culture is too often overlooked in summaries of British cultural artefacts. We are delighted that Hitchcock’s first nine films, all silent, are now inscribed in the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register.”

Hitchcock’s tenth silent film, The Mountain Eagle, is still missing and is said to be top of the BFI’s ‘most wanted’ list.

The nine surviving films, which premiered in the BFI National Archive last year after an expert restoration, will be screened at BFI Southbank in August.