A Matter of Life and Death
Wednesday 10 March at 7.30pm
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger│UK│1946│104 mins│ PG adult themes
David Niven plays a World War II fighter pilot caught between a black-and-white heaven and a glorious Technicolor earth, in this compelling hybrid of romantic fantasy and wartime propaganda.
“The first of Powell and Pressburger’s three Jack Cardiff-shot masterpieces, this is post-war propaganda at its finest: a tribute to love between individuals and reconciliation between nations. The film, which renders earth in glorious Technicolor and heaven in crisp black and white, marked Cardiff’s first foray into B&W. The results, unsurprisingly, are marvellous. An effortlessly charming David Niven plays Peter Carter, an English fighter pilot who falls in love with June (Kim Hunter), the American radio dispatcher he speaks to just before leaping from his plane without a parachute. When Peter miraculously survives, he tries to make up for lost time with his Yankee love – but it appears that heaven can’t wait. What follows is part love story and part medical drama, all mixed up with one of cinema’s most wonderfully bizarre trial scenes. Marius Goring, as the French ‘Conductor’ dispatched from heaven to retrieve Peter, steals every scene he’s in-a burst of delirious energy in what is already a most unusual film.” – Jonathan L. Knapp, BAMPFA