Monday, February 25, 2013

Movie of the Week – A Canterbury Tale

This week’s movie: A Canterbury Tale (1944).

The mystery drama centers around three people who meet in the small town of Kent on their way to Canterbury – a land girl, an American GI, and a British solider. After the girl is assaulted by the mysterious glue-man, the three are determined to discover his identity.

The film is written and directed by the team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (known as the Archers). While it is not as grand as many of their films, it is strikingly compelling and philosophically engaging. Powell and Pressburger made it right in the middle of their string of master works from 1943-1948 (including The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, I Know Where I’m Going!, Stairway to Heaven, Black Narcissus, and The Red Shoes). The Archers worked with composer Allan Gray, cinematographer Erwin Hillier, and production designer Alfred Junge on the film.

The film stars Eric Portman, Sheila Sim, Dennis Price, Charles Hawtrey, and John Sweet (an actual Sargent in the U.S. Army who was cast to give the character a very naturalistic feel – and he is fantastic).

A Canterbury Tale is a forgotten gem from one of cinema’s greatest filmmaking teams. It is a kind-hearted film that strives to evoke some sort of emotional revelation within the viewer – much like the characters experience. The film was made during WWII and can also be read as a sort of railing cry detailing the people, ideas, values, and traditions that the allies were fighting for. But, the war seems somewhat removed even with two of the main characters being soldiers, as again this is very much a layered spiritual journey (that merely begins with the detective plot to discover who the glue-man is). It is not a canonized work and thus is maybe not an essential film for cinema historians, but I highly recommend it for those looking for films that offer deeper meaning.

Trailer: Here
Available on: DVD

No comments:

Post a Comment