Playing in the Starlight Room · 21+ Venue
Back from bombing Germany, RAF flyboy David Niven crashes into the Channel, despite American operator Kim Hunter’s efforts to talk him down – but he isn’t dead yet, since Collector 71 (Marius Goring), a previously beheaded French aristocrat, has missed his scheduled soul pickup due to heavy fog. Asked to make a film promoting Anglo-American goodwill, Powell & Pressburger (The Red Shoes, Tales of Hoffman, etc.) soared into otherworldly whimsical fantasy, moving from the great Jack Cardiff’s Technicolor-drenched Earthly photography (more dazzling than ever in this new restoration), to a grandiose celestial trial with Raymond Massey as Niven’s snarling prosecutor, in glorious black & white (actually underdeveloped color, thus the pearly hue). “One is starved for Technicolor up there,” Goring remarks from Earth. New 4K DCP restoration. Approx. 104 min.
“One of the most audacious films ever made - in its grandiose vision, and in the cozy English way it’s expressed… The special effects show a universe that never existed until this movie was made, and the vision is breathtaking in its originality.”
– Roger Ebert
“It is a film with incredible self-possession, at once a playful miniature of innocent love and grandiose epic.”
– Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
“A virtuoso opening shot displays Powell’s ambitions: nothing less than a tracking movement across the universe, beginning with a distant galaxy and coming to fix on the cockpit of a British bomber, returning toward Dover from an air raid deep within Germany… Like so many of the films that Powell and Pressburger made together A Matter of Life and Death seems to overflow with ideas. In between international politics and metaphysical speculation, the film even finds room for some cinematic self-referentiality.”
– Dave Kehr, The New York Times