Miles Mander’s edgy, sophisticated silent drama The First Born is one of the most exciting recent rediscoveries of British silent cinema – and it will be presented in style at this year’s London Film Festival.
A philandering politician, the double standards of the upper classes, jealousy, miscegenation and a generation torn between centuries of tradition and a more modern morality… the plot of The First Born feels not unlike a lost episode of Downton Abbey. Sir Hugo Boycott (Miles Mander) and his young bride (a pre-blonde Madeleine Carroll) have a passionate relationship, but it founders when she fails to produce an heir. This is a surprisingly ‘adult’ film and made with both elegance and invention. Particularly surprising among Mander’s sometimes Hitchcockian box of visual tricks is a handheld camera sequence that allows the audience to become voyeur as Boycott stalks the marital bedroom to find his wife in the bath. The story is oddly reflected in reality: the ‘first born’ is played by Mander’s own son and it was well known that the leads were involved romantically – well enough known to bring Mander’s wife to the set to demand an explanation. This major new restoration by the BFI National Archive includes reinstated missing footage and the reintroduction of a beautiful range of tints.
This very special film will be screened at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank, with a new score by Stephen Horne, performed by three musicians. You can find out more about the film, and the score, here. The music you can hear on the extract above is not an extract from the new score, but a piece that Horne wrote especially for the clip. I think you’ll agree it sounds marvellous.
So, do you fancy a free pair of tickets to this special Archive Gala performance? To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets to see The First Born at the London Film Festival, just answer this simple question:
- The First Born was co-written by Alma Reville. Which famous film director was she married to?
Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Monday 10 October. The winner will be picked at random from the correct entries and emailed with the good news. Best of luck!
To find out more, and to book tickets, visit the London Film Festival website.
Terms and Conditions
- The prize is non-transferable and there is no cash alternative available.
- Recipients must be 16 or over and able to attend the screening at 19:30 on 20 October at Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.