The Ring

Live Musical Accompaniment by Robert Humphreville
Screening on Film
Recently Restored
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
With Carl Brisson, Lillian Hall-Davis, Ian Hunter.
UK, 1927, 35mm, black & white, silent, 108 min.
Print source: British Film Institute

Ostensibly a conventional melodrama about two fighters vying for the same woman, The Ring’s experimental visual style reveals the full extent of Hitchcock’s audacity as a young auteur. The full-scale carnival set built specifically for the opening sequences furnishes an especially intricate verisimilitude, while the ambitious deployment of the Shüfftan process—a technique first developed for Metropolis to match actors to elaborate sets—allows the climactic Albert Hall bout to be staged from a dizzying array of views. Drunken parties and near knockouts push the visual style to delirious extremes, but Hitchcock never loses sight of his central graphic motif: the “ring” of the title is reinscribed in countless scenes and symbols, with each manifestation indicating potential fissures in the realist surface. Earmarked as a turning point in Hitchcock’s early career by Eric Rohmer and Claude Chabrol, the French critics opined that “the dazzling ideas sown through this film could be endlessly enumerated.”

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