Fake News: The British Cinema Papers (2017)

University of Brighton Gallery
11 November – 9 December 2017

‘BRIGHTON GANGSTER’S BODY FOUND Gravel Pit Discovery’ declared the front page of The Evening Argus at the start of the film of Brighton Rock. The story implicates Fred Hale, a newspaper-man (and former Argus crime reporter) in Brighton as part of a publicity stunt for his paper. The use of newspaper headlines as a storytelling device is an established trope in cinema, part of its language and grammar, especially so in the thriller with stories proclaiming murder and men on the run. This was the starting point for Fake News, an exhibition that re-created significant newspaper front pages from Brighton Rock and a host of British thrillers.

Novelist Jake Arnott has described fiction as ‘an attempt to reconstruct the details of events that never happened’ and these newspaper front pages do just that. Here, they are also recreations of film ‘action props’ that no longer exist; made 70 years ago and glimpsed on screen for a couple of seconds before, often being discarded after filming. In a kind of Reconstructive Archaeology, Fake News rendered a fictional body of work actual with the new papers existing somewhere between art work, prop and reconstruction.

‘Where can you get movie stories that are better than today’s headlines? Alfred Hitchcock asked – and though very few of his films were directly inspired by a newspaper story, the master of suspense made recurring use of the motif of the newspaper headline throughout his career. Fake News featured re-created newspapers from Hitchcock’s breakthrough thriller The Lodger, 39 Steps and Young and Innocent complemented by video essay, The Hitchcock Papers – a homage to Hitchcock and his masterly use of the newspaper as prop – created by CINECITY and Paul Dutnall with original music from Barry Adamson. 

The exhibition’s re-creation of front pages was complemented by ‘real’, existing newspaper action props from A Clockwork Orange, courtesy of the Stanley Kubrick Archive. With their patina and provenance, these original props from Kubrick’s legendary 1971 film, possess the quality of a sacred object or holy relic. With thanks to Aardman Animation, we also presented newspaper graphics from the thrilling animated adventures of Wallace and Gromit in The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave, Curse of the Were-Rabbit and A Matter of Loaf & Death.

A selection of the re-created papers were also exhibited at Towner Gallery, Eastbourne.

To complement the exhibition, Hitchcock’s 1927 film The Lodger was screened with a new score composed by Neil Brand, performed live by the 12-piece Covent Garden Sinfonia.

Fake News: The British Cinema Papers was created by CINECITY and artist / production designer Anna Deamer, working with Data Reprographics, provider of specialist services to the film industry since 1986. It was supported by Arts Council England.