The First Born on tour in 2012

Miles Mander and Madeleine Carroll in The First Born (1928)
Miles Mander and Madeleine Carroll in The First Born (1928)

The BFI’s sparkling restoration of Miles Mander’s The First Born, with its new, elegant score by Stephen Horne, was the clear highlight of last year’s London Film Festival. The wonderful news is that it is about to hit the road this year, and you’ll be able to see the film, in most cases with Horne’s music played live, at various lcoations across the UK. It’s a gripping, sophisticated drama and a gem of British silent cinema – so don’t miss it. Here’s what the BFI have to say about it:

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. However, the film was expertly co-scripted by Alma Reville (Mrs Alfred Hitchcock) and it’s hard not to see her influence in raising it beyond old-school melodrama to be a tour de force of late silent British cinema. 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.

I reviewed the film at the London Film Festival here, and spoke to BFI silent film curator Bryony Dixon and composer Stephen Horne for the Guardian too. You can see an extract from the film, below:

Here are the tour dates for The First Born, hot off the press:

25 January 2012
BFI Southbank

9 March 2012
Broadway Nottingham
(NB: solo performance by Stephen Horne)

17 March 2012
Hippodrome Bo’ness

25 April 2012
Pictureville Bradford
(NB: this screening will not feature Stephen Horne’s score)

May 2012 TBC
Filmhouse Edinburgh
DCA Dundee

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