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The Informer

With accompaniment by Stephen Horne

Join us to warmly welcome back leading silent film accompanist Stephen Horne to perform alongside a one-off screening of The InformerFor this special screening, Horne will play a new piece which mixes a score for trio that he composed for Boness’ Hippodrome Silent Film Festival with improvised elements, meaning Dundee audiences will be treated to a unique, one-off composition performed live in the Cinema.

"the scene is set for betrayal and tragedy."

A house pianist at London’s BFI Southbank for 30 years, Stephen has played at all the major UK venues and regularly performs internationally. In recent years his accompaniments have met with acclaim at film festivals in Pordenone, Bologna, San Francisco, Telluride, Paris, Cannes, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Shanghai, Istanbul, Berlin and Vienna.

Directed by acclaimed German-American filmmaker Arthur Robison, The Informer is one of the earliest adaptations of Liam O’Flaherty’s famous novel, set among Dublin revolutionaries in the early days of the newly independent Irish Free State. 

The action begins when a group of revolutionaries meet undercover and are unknowingly observed by police. During the ensuing raid the chief of police is killed by Francis, a trigger-happy member of the group, who is then forced to flee in order to preserve the group’s secrecy. Returning to bid his mother farewell, Francis goes to see his former lover and co-revolutionary, Kate. When he discovers that she appears to have taken up with another of their comrades, the scene is set for betrayal and tragedy.

"...good enough to make you believe you are in 1920s Dublin."

O’Flaherty claimed in his autobiography that he wrote The Informer “based on the technique of the cinema,” as “a kind of high-brow detective story”. Robison’s style in the film reflects this, anticipating the expressionistic aesthetics of film noir. Less ostentatiously arty than some of his contemporaries, Robison’s claustrophobic design has one foot in the 1930s. The oppressive, boxed-in feel is reinforced by the studio photography, with nearly all shots framed in mid-shot or close-up; and the dense narrative develops quickly, heightening the film's emotional intensity. 

Although made at Elstree Studios by British International Pictures, The Informer was a supremely international production, boasting an acclaimed German/American director, Arthur Robison; English actor Carl Harbord as the tragic Francis, while Swedish actor Lars Hanson is his love rival Gypo Nolan. The object of their affections is the luminously beautiful Hungarian star, Lya de Putti. The Informer was entirely photographed in the studio, although the design and photography – by J. Elder Wills and Germans Werner Brandes and Theodor Sparkuhl respectively – is good enough to make you believe you are in 1920s Dublin.

The film will be introduced by Laraine Porter from De Montfort University, Leicester.

This screening is funded by The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the British Silent Cinema and the Transition to Sound project.