Better than anyone we know, Tom Echols draws together themes from art, music, literature, and film. So it is extra perfect that next Wednesday he’ll begin a two-week Insights course on Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger.

Participants will get to meet composer Joseph Williams and the Texas Guitar Quartet, who will give a special preview of the new film score Williams has written!

The class meets twice—from 7 to 9pm on Wednesday, January 7th and on Tuesday, January 13th in a lovely home with wine and light refreshments.

Register for Insights online here, or call 512-300-2247.

We asked Dr. Echols some questions about Alfred Hitchcock and the role of music in film.

Dr. Thomas Echols Photo
Dr. Thomas Echols

ACG: What do you love about Hitchock?

Tom Echols: In Hitchcock, there is a synthesis of content and form: intricate plot twists and dramatic tension take place within films that, in the words of the philosopher and Hitchcock expert William Rothman, “attain a modern self-consciousness.” The films, through a variety of techniques, become a self-reflexive commentary on the nature of film itself. The influence of Hitchcock on later filmmakers is ubiquitous. In particular, the great directors of the French New Wave were strongly influenced by the “Master of Suspense.”

ACG: What’s cool about the Lodger?

TE: Hitchcock spoke of The Lodger, his third directorial effort, as the first true Hitchcock film, the one that inaugurates his authorship. There are many motifs and recurring themes common to Hitchcock’s later works that are first found in The Lodger. Plus, it’s just a really fun, gripping movie!

ACG: What is the role of music in film?

TE: The score provides ambience and helps to increase the sense of dramatic tension, foreboding, or other underlying emotions and subtext. Musical motifs can mirror visual motifs in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, drawing attention to more formal aspects of the work. Many of Hitchcock’s most famous films from the 1950s and 1960s are scored by the great film composer Bernard Herman. A film critic once said that a Hitchcock film was not a Hitchcock film without a Bernard Herman score, and, Hitchcock being a bit of an egoist, this caused the great auteur to part ways with his musical collaborator. This kind of marks the end of the greatest era of Hitchcock films, so I think it shows just how important the score can be!

ACG: What can people expect to learn in your class next week?

TE: We’re going to get familiar with The Lodger and learn about visual motifs and techniques that Hitchcock used to create dramatic tension while also creating a kind of discourse about film—what it means to watch a film, to make a film, to be an actor in a film. I think participants will be surprised by how many different elements are involved in giving this film its impact.