Friday, December 13, 2013
Film&Fashion Fridays : Powell&Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death
Paris cinephiles rejoice! If you loved Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes, you ttally have to head over to Le Champo and see A Matter of Life and Death!
If not for the extremely celevr concept of life and afterlife, nor the super stylish aviator jackets, neither the cute 40s hairstyles, then the Technicolor!
Sure, it's on digital, but the transfer is beautiful and the colors are rich and vivid.
The film is surprisingly funny and joyous, given its subject matter. Basically this pilot was missed by the messenger of death, which bought him more time on Earth and lead to a budding romance. When the messenger approaches to correct his mistake, the pilot refuses to go and demand a recall.
In my opinion the whole film is based on a false premise - the pilot actually fell in love with the girl when they were talking on the radio, a few minutes before he abandoned the flaming plane without a parachute.
However, it's still sheer joy watching it! And for any Bergman fans, there are quite a few chess references.
Here's a more coherent synopsis I found on Karagarga :
One of the finest products of the partnership between Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, it is an extravagant allegory that manages to be simultaneously life-enhancing and necrophiliac.
First shown in late 1946, the re-released A Matter of Life and Death, one of the finest products of the partnership between Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, is an extravagant allegory that manages to be simultaneously life-enhancing and necrophiliac. David Niven is at his most charming as a wounded RAF pilot who on the point of death confronts a heavenly tribunal.
The themes are Anglo-American relations, imperialism and the shape of the post-war world, and the movie is dated only in the sense that it exudes that spirit of hope that informed the brief period between the election of the first majority Labour Government and the onset of the Cold War.
Kim Hunter, who the following year was to create the role of Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, is delightful as the American WAC devoted to Niven, and there is a scene-stealing performance from Marius Goring as the eighteenth-century French aristocrat, a victim of the Revolution, who acts as a heavenly emissary. Jack Cardiff's photography (monochrome for heaven, Technicolor for Earth) and Alfred Junge's sets are exquisite.
More info - link
Major bonus points - a goofy 18th century Frenchman, dumb American boys trying to play Shakespeare, silly almost perfect freeze frames, hunky 40s guys with perfect facial hair AND ping pong! Not to mention cold sexy flight-marshal angel ladies (with the most amazing hairstyles).