A mat­ter of life and death

An­gel in­ter­cep­tor

SFX - - Reviews -

RE­LEASED OUT NOW! 1946 | U | Blu-ray Di­rec­tors Michael Pow­ell, emeric Press­burger Cast david Niven, Kim Hunter, Mar­ius Gor­ing, roger livesey

Pow­ell and Press­burger never de­liv­ered the ob­vi­ous. A Mat­ter Of Life And Death was orig­i­nally meant to be a pro­pa­ganda piece, a salve for An­glo-Amer­i­can re­la­tions strained by WW2. It ended up as some­thing far stranger, richer and more en­dur­ing, a sump­tu­ous fan­ta­sia just on the edge of un­clas­si­fi­able.

David Niven is pluck and charm in­car­nate as air­man Peter Carter, caught in the crack be­tween Earth and the after­life due to a ce­les­tial ac­count­ing er­ror. Carter’s ro­mance with Kim Hunter’s peppy June is en­dear­ing, but it’s the vi­su­als that wow: a stark mono­chrome Heaven, in­debted to Ger­man Ex­pres­sion­ist cinema; an English gar­den whose blooms are so vivid a char­ac­ter openly talks about Tech­ni­color; an as­ton­ish­ing dis­solve that takes us from the uni­verse to the fires of aerial com­bat over the Chan­nel.

It’s a pro­pa­ganda piece, al­right, for the dream­ing power of cinema.

Ex­tras Just a short 1998 doc, “The Colour Mer­chant”, about cin­e­matog­ra­pher Jack Cardiff, and text bi­ogra­phies. Nick Setch­field

For the scene of Carter on the misty beach, cin­e­matog­ra­pher Jack Cardiff fogged the cam­era lens with his breath.

It took 27 times to get the selfie right.

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