Alfred Hitchcock silent films join Unesco register

Image caption,
The Pleasure Garden is a forerunner to later Hitchcock classics such as Vertigo

Alfred Hitchcock's nine surviving silent films will join artefacts such as the Domesday Book in representing the cultural heritage of the UK.

Hitchcock's films - the British director's earliest works - premiered at the British Film Institute last summer following extensive restoration.

They have now been added to the Unesco UK Memory of the World Register.

The register "reflects the richness of UK culture and history, from medieval manuscripts to ground-breaking cinema".

The online catalogue which highlights documentary heritage holding cultural significance specific to the UK, was created in July 2010.

Eleven items, selected from UK libraries, archives and museums, have been selected this year to join the current collection, which includes The Bodleian Library's Cura Pastoralis of Gregory, purported to be the earliest surviving book written entirely in the English language.

"We are very pleased to see that the early films from one of the world's best known filmmakers are taking their place alongside some of the greatest cultural artefacts of the United Kingdom," said Robin Baker, head curator at the British Film Institute (BFI).

"Film culture is too often overlooked in summaries of British cultural heritage," he added.

'New audiences'

"The BFI National Archive's painstaking restorations are attracting not only new audiences around the world but the acclaim of the international community as important works of world cultural note," said Mr Baker.

The British Film Institute (BFI) spent three years restoring nine silent Hitchcock films, made between 1925 and 1929, ahead of their premiere at the London 2012 Festival last year.

Titles include debut feature The Pleasure Garden and boxing drama The Ring. A tenth film made during the period, The Mountain Eagle (1926), remains lost.

The Hitchcock 9, cited as a blueprint for the director's best known post-war films such as Psycho and Vertigo, are currently being screened across the US.

Last year, Hitchcock's Vertigo replaced Orson Welles's Citizen Kane at the top of the British Film Institute's Sight and Sound magazine poll as the greatest film of all time.

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