screening
FILM
A Matter of Life and Death
,
,
104’

“Where were you born?”

“Boston.”

“Massachusetts?”

“Yes.”

“That’s a place to be born, history was made there. Are you in love with anybody? No, no don’t answer that.”

“I could love a man like you, Peter.”

“I love you, June. You’re life and I’m leaving you.”

Peter and June over the radio in A Matter of Life and Death

 

“Had you harked you would have heard the herald angels singing an appropriate paean of joy over a wonderful new British picture, Stairway to Heaven [A Matter of Life and Death], which came to the Park Avenue Theatre yesterday. And if you will listen now to this reviewer you will hear that the delicate charm, the adult humor, and visual virtuosity of this Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger film render it indisputably the best of a batch of Christmas shows.”

Bosley Crowther1

 

“As the years went by, whenever I aw the logo of The Archers appear on the screen, I knew I was in for something unique, a very special kind of experience. I don't think any other logo would fill me with such expectation of fantasy and wonder – not so much fantasy, but magic, real film magic. [...] I always felt that the most successful experimental filmmakers in the world were Michael and Emeric, because of the number of films they managed to make over fifteen years and the level of their work. They were the only independent filmmakers who managed to work within the system and still get away with making truly exerimental films.”

Martin Scorsese2

 

A Matter of Life and Death has been interpreted as a covert attack on the socialist vision of Utopia, satirized in heaven’s bureaucracy, which Peter, ‘the uncommon man’, is determined to escape at all costs. There may be some basis for this in Powell’s contemporary call for an apolitical stance: ‘Perhaps now that more writers are becoming producers and directors, they will turn their energies from politics and union activities to the creation of a new form of storytelling.’ But, as John Ellis argued in a lenghty analysis of the film, to separate form from content in traditional literary terms is to ignore what is most subversive of tradition in this remarkable work: all its imagery and debate focus on the process of representation itself.”

Ian Christie3

 

“But we’ll have much more to say later, when we've got Christmas out of our hair. Till then, take this recommendation: see Stairway to Heaven [A Matter of Life and Death]. It’s a delight!”

Bosley Crowther4

 

On the set of A Matter of Life and Death

  • 1. Bosley Crowther, “Stairway to Heaven,” New York Times, 26 December 1946.
  • 2. Martin Scorsese, “Foreword,” in Ian Christie, Arrows of Desire. The Films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1994).
  • 3. Ian Christie, Arrows of Desire. The Films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1994).
  • 4. Bosley Crowther, “Stairway to Heaven,” New York Times, 26 December 1946.
Wed 27 Jun 2018, 19:00
CINEMATEK, Brussels
PART OF
FILM
A Matter of Life and Death
,
,
104’

“Where were you born?”

“Boston.”

“Massachusetts?”

“Yes.”

“That’s a place to be born, history was made there. Are you in love with anybody? No, no don’t answer that.”

“I could love a man like you, Peter.”

“I love you, June. You’re life and I’m leaving you.”

Peter and June over the radio in A Matter of Life and Death

 

“Had you harked you would have heard the herald angels singing an appropriate paean of joy over a wonderful new British picture, Stairway to Heaven [A Matter of Life and Death], which came to the Park Avenue Theatre yesterday. And if you will listen now to this reviewer you will hear that the delicate charm, the adult humor, and visual virtuosity of this Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger film render it indisputably the best of a batch of Christmas shows.”

Bosley Crowther1

 

“As the years went by, whenever I aw the logo of The Archers appear on the screen, I knew I was in for something unique, a very special kind of experience. I don't think any other logo would fill me with such expectation of fantasy and wonder – not so much fantasy, but magic, real film magic. [...] I always felt that the most successful experimental filmmakers in the world were Michael and Emeric, because of the number of films they managed to make over fifteen years and the level of their work. They were the only independent filmmakers who managed to work within the system and still get away with making truly exerimental films.”

Martin Scorsese2

 

A Matter of Life and Death has been interpreted as a covert attack on the socialist vision of Utopia, satirized in heaven’s bureaucracy, which Peter, ‘the uncommon man’, is determined to escape at all costs. There may be some basis for this in Powell’s contemporary call for an apolitical stance: ‘Perhaps now that more writers are becoming producers and directors, they will turn their energies from politics and union activities to the creation of a new form of storytelling.’ But, as John Ellis argued in a lenghty analysis of the film, to separate form from content in traditional literary terms is to ignore what is most subversive of tradition in this remarkable work: all its imagery and debate focus on the process of representation itself.”

Ian Christie3

 

“But we’ll have much more to say later, when we've got Christmas out of our hair. Till then, take this recommendation: see Stairway to Heaven [A Matter of Life and Death]. It’s a delight!”

Bosley Crowther4

 

On the set of A Matter of Life and Death

  • 1. Bosley Crowther, “Stairway to Heaven,” New York Times, 26 December 1946.
  • 2. Martin Scorsese, “Foreword,” in Ian Christie, Arrows of Desire. The Films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1994).
  • 3. Ian Christie, Arrows of Desire. The Films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1994).
  • 4. Bosley Crowther, “Stairway to Heaven,” New York Times, 26 December 1946.