You can watch the entire movie here: Alfred Hitchcock’s The Ring
One of Hitchcock’s earliest films, The Ring, opened in 1927. It was a silent black and white film with a classic love struggle and a sense of mystery.
An original screenplay written by Alfred Hitchcock himself, it tells the story of a love triangle between two fighters and a woman. It takes place at a carnival and the focus is on the bizarre and grotesque figures present.
The influence from the recent German films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is evident in the way the film is directed and filmed. The extreme use of light and dark images, shadows, and the bizarre circumstances of the film were extremely familiar to the audience (Sterritt, 1993).
Hitchcock was able to use his extensive knowledge and ability of cinematic devices in this film, as he himself said he was no good at putting his ideas into words. Since the film was silent, Hitchcock had to rely heavily on the filming and facial expressions to relay his point of fear and darkness to the audience, something that he excelled at (Sterritt, 1993).
There is a focus on the grotesque and weird aspects of the circus and the fight, playing off the fears of sideshows and “freaks.” Circuses were popular at the time, and the sideshows featuring “freaks” were common and drew large crowds. The draw to these shows was a mixture of relief and fear: relief that they were not like those people and fear that they could be. They were seen as inhuman to audiences as that was the easiest way to objectify them (Spoto, 1983).
There is a hallucinatory effect in the film, as well as a nightmarish quality to everything (Spoto, 1983). It was the first glimpse that audiences had of Hitchcock’s ability to combine the “romantic and the grotesque” (Spoto, 1983, p. 32). This would layout the path for the rest of Hitchcock’s films, giving the audience an idea of the mastermind that Hitchcock would become.