Powell and Pressburger

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger believe in dreams. It is clear in the films of theirs that I’ve seen that they have created their own world within each film. I first saw A Matter of Life and Death (1946) I found that it was bursting with ideas, ahead of its time. Love is at the centre in all of the films. In I Know Where I’m Going (1945) Wendy Hiller is determined like all of their protagonists. In The Red Shoes (1948) I was reminded how Douglas Sirk used colour, effective and contrasting with themes. Moira Shearer’s red hair, Anton Walbrook’s ghost-like face. David Mamet wrote of his favourite film starring his favourite actor, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) starring Roger Livesey. Deborah Kerr plays three roles; her red hair and her beauty are crisp and full of life. The bell of the convent in Black Narcissus (1947) is right on the edge of a cliff. A lecturer of mine wrote her Ph.D thesis on the vivid and luscious  landscapes in Powell and Pressburger films. Deborah Kerr is a nun, Clodagh originally from Enniskerry Co. Wicklow of all places! There is a fast-cut of Kerr reacting that reminded me how Nic Roeg edits, such precision. The images in my head of this film are starling close-ups of faces and eyes, the sweat on Kathleen Byron’s face and the convent disappearing into the mist, the film’s final image. The films of Powell and Pressburger continue to inspire in their dreamlike tranquility.

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