Excellent news for fans of British silent cinema (that’s you). Anthony Asquith’s Underground (1928) will be released in cinemas next year. It’s a romantic and thrilling film about a love triangle that sparks jealousy, madness and terrible violence. Asquith’s direction is confident – and richly expressive.
Underground is also a fascinating portrait of 1920s London, including a public transport system that has only subtly changed in the intervening 80-odd years. Indeed this theatrical release is intended to celebrate 150 years of the Tube. The film stars Brian Aherne, Elissa Landi, Cyril McLaglen, and Norah Baring in the roles the opening intertitle describes as “ordinary workaday people whose names are just Nell, Bill, Kate and Bert”. It’s no ordinary film though, Asquith uses subjective techniques inspired by European cinema to convey his character’s emotional turmoils and to make Underground both atmospheric and suspenseful. If you’ve seen his final silent film A Cottage on Dartmoor, you’ll know just what to expect.
What is particularly special about this release is that the film has been beautifully restored by the BFI and will be accompanied by a live orchestral recording of Neil Brand’s superb score – played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra. You can read more about the film here on the BFI website, or read Silent London’s interview with composer Neil Brand here. Ahead of last year’s Barbican screening of Underground, Brand wrote this fascinating piece for the Telegraph about “Silent cinema and the secrets of London”.
Underground is released on 11 January 2013, screening at the BFI Southbank and selected cinemas nationwide. A special preview screening at BFI Southbank on 10 January 2013 will be followed by a panel discussion hosted by Francine Stock, with Bryony Dixon, Ben Thompson, Simon Murphy and Neil Brand.