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UNDER CAPRICORN

Director: ALFRED HITCHCOCK

U.K. • 1949 • COLOUR • 35MM • 117 Min


Some films become instant classics, others are ahead of their time and take years to be recognised. To the latter category belong Renoir’s La regle du jeu (Rules of the Game) and, equally, Under Capricorn. At the time, outside France, it was Hitchcock’s biggest failure. Neither audiences nor critics were ready to accept its departure from what they expected from him: its downplaying of suspense and shock, its leisurely pacing, its unfamiliar period setting among Irish emigrants in 1830s Australia, recreated in an English studio. (The plan to shoot a prologue on location in Ireland was, sadly, given up.) But at a more profound level it is quintessential Hitchcock. His greatest female star, Ingrid Bergman, is memorable as a demoralised woman who struggles to come to terms with her husband and her past, and he pushes his fascination with film technique to a mesmerising extreme, using the long-take moving-camera strategy of his previous film, Rope, which was set in a single apartment, within a more demandingly extended setting. Jack Cardiff’s Technicolor cinematography is sumptuous, and the Bergman monologue that unlocks her past, taken in an unbroken shot of more than eight minutes, is one of the most intense scenes in all the 50 years of Hitchcock’s cinema.

This film will be introduced by Charles Barr.

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