Monday, January 20, 2014

Movie of the Week – The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

This week’s movie: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943).

The war/romance drama looks at British soldier Clive Wynne-Candy over the course of his life. As a dashing young man, he is full of honor as well as piss and vinegar, but forty years later now a General he might be too old-fashioned for the times (WWII’s total war). The film details Wynne-Candy’s three major relationships with women and his friendship with German officer Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff.

The film is the Archers’ (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger) first masterpiece (and one of my personal favorite films). The Archers made some of the best British films of the 1940s. Their must-see include: this film, A Canterbury Tale, ‘I Know Where I’m Going!’, A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, and The Small Black Room. On The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, the Archers worked with frequent collaborators composer Allan Gray, cinematographer Georges Perinal (brilliant cinematographer who would go on to do some of the best photography work in film history with the Archers Jack Cardiff was the second unit D.P.), and production designer Alfred Junge.

The Archers also worked with great actors on the film, all of whom frequented their films. It stars Roger Livesey, Deborah Kerr, and Anton Walbrook. All three are just fantastic.

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is a hard film to describe. Watching it is a transformative experience. It is such a well-made and utterly compelling film (both narratively and aesthetically) that most other work feels inadequate or lacking in some respect. Just the Technicolor photography and production design alone is profoundly beautiful (though, I think that the Archers produce something even better with Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes in this respect). The story and performances, however, are almost second to none in film history. This is just a masterpiece in every respect – sadly one that very few have seen (and one that is often forgotten, as is most of the Archers’ work, even though I think they are among the five best directors in cinema). This is a must-see for everyone wishing to have a strong knowledge of the best films (as there is maybe none better – though, honestly, I do go back and forth between this and The Red Shoes as my favorite).

Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

No comments:

Post a Comment