A Matter Of Life And Death Play Pdf

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A Matter of Life and Death

With its melodrama, romance and end-of-war spectral visions, the Powell and Pressburger film baffled critics in But its strangeness makes it a masterpiece. T he opening scenes of A Matter of Life and Death are among the most audacious and moving ever confected by the cinematic magicians Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. After the whump of arrow on target that announces a production by the Archers, we are pitched into the blue-black vasts of space — the film-makers had consulted Arthur C Clarke about the design of their cosmos — where a voiceover guides us past eerie nebulae and exploding stars to our own fretful corner of the universe.

Fog rolls across the screen, radios crackle with the voices of Hitler and Churchill. Cut to a red-lit control room, a sinister nest of Anglepoise lamps, and in their midst a young American radio operator named June played by Kim Hunter who is trying to speak to the pilot of a damaged Lancaster as it limps across the Channel.

The bomber is on fire, its fuselage gaping, ruined instruments rattling around behind Peter Carter David Niven as he recites into the ether lines of poetry by Raleigh and Marvell. Will he jump too? Miraculously, the young pilot survives, and is washed up on a beach in Devon, where he meets June cycling across the sands. But Peter was meant to die, and the authorities in the next world will not let him go, just because he has fallen in love. So far everything has been in ravishing colour, but suddenly we are in a black-and-white modernist heaven where the first bureaucratic mistake in centuries has set off celestial alarm bells.

A Matter of Life and Death is a self-consciously Shakespearean comedy of sorts, and a lurid experiment in cinematic colour and scenography. The film began as an expressly propagandist project. There were other origins and influences at work. In the German press reported that a British rear gunner had fallen 18,ft into a snow drift and survived. This is not Blithe Spirit , even if both films turn at the end on similar high-speed road accidents.

The plot takes the risk of combining time travel, psychiatric melodrama and divine or supernatural intervention on Earth: all of which themes had recently been explored in other movies, though not yet in the same heady mix. Filming was delayed for months due to shortage of colour film stock and cameras.

He had assumed that Earth would be in black and white, the other world in colour — The Wizard of Oz supplying the model. But Powell and Pressburger wanted the reverse. Heaven is all sparse and pearly monochrome, shot by Cardiff on colour stock without the usual dyes, so that seamless dissolves could be effected between worlds. A Matter of Life and Death was shot on Stage 4 at Denham Studios, where Powell and Pressburger had lately mocked up, with painted flats and blown-up photographs, the interior of Canterbury cathedral for the closing scenes of A Canterbury Tale.

John Bunyan himself puts in an appearance when Dr Reeves arrives in heaven to defend Peter. Peter Carter is a poet, and Reeves sees the world like a poet, at least according to June. Reeves, the bearded magus, is the most obvious link to The Tempest.

Like Prospero, he is a sort of director, preparing the stage for magical or miraculous events, in the end abjuring his own specialist knowledge so that the lovers may thrive in the last scene. But it is also all about film, its art and artifice. It sounds like a definition of cinema. When June calls Reeves a poet, it is because she visits him in a camera obscura at the top of his house, from which — a bravura bit of special-effects work — he observes on a concave screen all movement in the village below.

Critical response was mixed. Others objected, yet again, to a perceived anti-British strain. War, love and weirdness: A Matter of Life and Death — 70 years on. Brian Dillon. Fri 4 Nov David Niven on the golden days of Hollywood: from the archive, 23 January Read more. Topics Film features. Reuse this content.

War, love and weirdness: A Matter of Life and Death – 70 years on

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UIC Theatre premieres ‘A Matter of Life and Death’

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It is hard to know what to make of A Matter of Life and Death. Based on the film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, it retells the story of an RAF pilot without a parachute who jumps to certain death from his blazing Lancaster bomber in May ; addressing his last words to June his radio operator, a girl he has never met.

With its melodrama, romance and end-of-war spectral visions, the Powell and Pressburger film baffled critics in But its strangeness makes it a masterpiece. T he opening scenes of A Matter of Life and Death are among the most audacious and moving ever confected by the cinematic magicians Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. After the whump of arrow on target that announces a production by the Archers, we are pitched into the blue-black vasts of space — the film-makers had consulted Arthur C Clarke about the design of their cosmos — where a voiceover guides us past eerie nebulae and exploding stars to our own fretful corner of the universe. Fog rolls across the screen, radios crackle with the voices of Hitler and Churchill.

See what's new with book lending at the Internet Archive. Returning to England from a bombing run in May , pilot Peter Carter's plane is damaged and his parachute ripped to shreds. He has his crew bail out safely, but figures it is curtains for himself.

A matter of bacterial life and death

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