A MAT­TER OF LIFE AND DEATH

BLU-RAY

Sound & Vision - - ENTERTAINMENT - JOSEF KREBS

A LIM­IT­LESS track­ing shot show­ing the uni­verse peace­fully ex­pand­ing and con­tract­ing shifts to a very spe­cific night dur­ing World War II when a girl talks des­per­ately on a ra­dio to . . . . A sud­den cut plunges us into the aw­ful noise and chaos of a roar­ing, burn­ing Lan­caster Bomber, wind rush­ing through holes punched by ack-ack shells, as it de­scends into its fi­nal dive. The pi­lot who kept the plane aloft while his crew evac­u­ated has no para­chute, just courage, gal­lows hu­mor, and style un­der pres­sure. And thus, two peo­ple fall in love with­out ever hav­ing met. When the man some­how sur­vives his jump into the sea de­spite his be­ing recorded in Heaven as dead, he ar­gues that his love and this mis­take give him the right to his day in ce­les­tial court. The con­ceit by writ­ers-di­rec­tors Michael Pow­ell and Emeric Press­burger, how­ever, is that this all may be hal­lu­ci­na­tions caused by a head in­jury.

The Cri­te­rion Col­lec­tion’s glo­ri­ous restora­tion uses a 4K scan from the orig­i­nal 35mm three-strip Tech­ni­color neg­a­tives. Jack Cardiff’s deep-fo­cus com­po­si­tions look sharp through­out, with plen­ti­ful de­tail even in shad­ows and the gloom of fre­quent low light­ing. Fig­ures and faces are solid and di­men­sional. Each of the worlds has a very dif­fer­ent look, but both fea­ture enough grain to con­vey a film-like qual­ity with­out com­pro­mis­ing res­o­lu­tion. Beach scenes show vast tac­tile waves of wet sand, pools, and in­di­vid­ual blades of scrub grass, and the ex­cel­lent con­trast helps to dif­fer­en­ti­ate ev­ery­thing. Tech­ni­color ter­res­trial scenes have a gor­geous, painterly sat­u­rated-yet-re­strained palette with a wide range of vel­vety col­ors and nat­u­ral skin tones. Black-and-white

Heaven fea­tures an equally wide, beau­ti­ful range of gray tones.

Ef­fects in the re­mas­tered mono sound­track are very re­al­is­tic. A shep­herd boy play­ing pan pipes lends a scene an ar­chaic qual­ity un­til a bomber roars in low over­head. Rain, ve­hi­cles, and a ping-pong game are all con­vinc­ing, and the clas­si­cal score presents a clear, full wall-of-sound.

A com­men­tary by film his­to­rian Ian

Christie fo­cuses on the pro­duc­tion, while an in­tro by Martin Scors­ese and in­ter­view with Scors­ese’s editor

Thelma Schoon­maker and Pow­ell’s widow both of­fer anal­y­sis of the di­rec­tors’ visual style.

BLU-RAY STU­DIO: Cri­te­rion, 1946 AS­PECT RA­TIO: 1.37:1 HDR FOR­MAT: NA AU­DIO FOR­MAT: Lin­ear PCM Mono LENGTH: 104 mins. DI­REC­TOR: Michael Pow­ell, Emeric Press­burger STAR­RING: David Niven,Roger Livesey, Ray­mond Massey, Kim Hunter, Mar­ius Gor­ing

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