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Hitchcock's The Pleasure Garden by Gemma Starkey
Introduction The Picture Palace Seeds of Genius Restoration A New Score  

Today, Alfred Hitchcock is most commonly associated with films like Vertigo (1958), Psycho (1960) and The Birds (1963) - all films made after his move to Hollywood in 1939. But he spent the first 19 years of his filmmaking career in Britain, starting in the late silent period of the 1920s and directing all of 23 films that were as diverse in subject matter as they were advanced in style and technique. By the time he boarded the ship that carried him across the Atlantic, Hitchcock was already an extremely accomplished and world famous film director, thanks to the success of The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938).

It took him time to scale to those heights, but Hitchcock was proving himself a distinctive talent right from the start of his career. Confident and well-crafted films like The Lodger (1926), The Ring (1927) and Blackmail (1929) won him admirers among filmgoers and critics. Hitchcock's British work wasn't just a process of trial and error, but the work of an ambitious young filmmaker developing his own unique brand of visual storytelling for a growing cinema audience.

Remarkably, Hitchcock's distinct 'branding' can be traced right back to the opening shots of his very first film as director, The Pleasure Garden (1926). Not only does his signature boldly appear during the title sequence (like the later 'signature' of his infamous cameo appearances), but the film established motifs, tricks and techniques that would preoccupy Hitchcock for the next fifty years.

The short films in this tour aims to give a broad account of Hitchcock's directorial debut, with carefully-chosen extracts from the film and insights from expert commentators. The first two films offer insights into the 1920s Britain in which the young director got his start and explore his instinctive grasp of film technique. The final two films showcase the remarkable work done by the BFI National Archive on restoring the film, and by telling the fascinating story of the creation of a new score to accompany it.

The tour has been designed for students to explore independently as well as for use in the KS2/3/4 classroom. Follow the education links at the side of each page to see how you can start applying some of the material highlighted in each section.

Find your way around the tour using the tabs at the top of the page.

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The Pleasure Garden

Video and resources in this tour are courtesy of

The Space

the new arts service developed by Arts Council England and the BBC, supported by National Lottery funding through Arts Council England.