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  1. #21
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    My reponse to this film was very different than my initial responses to A Canterbury Tale, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and Tales of Hoffman. It was comparable to my thoughts on I Know Where I'm Going when I first saw it. I enjoyed it thoroughly and had no complaints - but I was not overwhelmed as I was by those first three.



    At the same time, I thought as I was watching: "There is a lot here that I am not quite getting. I will have to watch it again - and probably again after that". I have rarely seen a film that ended so quickly. I thought: it can't be over already - it just began!



    Those scenes on the stairway are marvelous: the scenic design, the camera work, the music (brilliant) and the juxtaposition of the dialogue - combining wit and urgency. I especially liked the shots of the statues majestically moving by from below.



    I enjoyed the inclusion of an American as one of the leads, just as in A Canterbury Tale, and as I mentioned in another thread - it was intriguing to see an American in a British film who did not have an accent.



    And when did Kim Hunter learn how to act with such sincerity and depth? She was excellent in this. She was only acceptable in her other roles, later on. Maybe it wasn't her fault in those later roles. Hmmmm.....



    Raymond Massey took a little getting used to. My first thought was: I would have liked to have seen a Bostonian playng a Bostonian - but that is mere carping. I'm so used to thinking of him as Abraham Lincoln that I had to adjust my thinking.



    I didn't fully understand the medical aspects - it seems that it was all just a hallucination. Maybe I'm wrong?



    I will be watching it again this weekend.
    Maybe it was all just a hallucination. But maybe it wasn't



    As it says at the beginning:

    This is the story of two worlds,

    the one we know and another

    which exists only in the mind ...

    of a young airman whose life and

    imagination have been violently shaped by war.



    Any resemblance to any other world, known or unknown, is

    purely coincidental.





    I like that you thought there was a lot you're not getting, there is. That's how it got me. Every time I see it I see something else in it.



    But you can still see it the first time and appreciate it as a romantic drama with a bit of a mystical twist. And what a powerful romantic drama. I shed tears every time I see it. Not because it's sad, although some parts appear to be heading towards tragedy, but because it's so joyous and noble and wonderful and full of everything that I love.



    But I'll try not to say too much about what I think about it because I don't want to steer you (too much). It's much better if you discover it for yourself





    You said about the medical aspects. They are rather detailed aren't they? In fact they intrigued Diane Friedman, a Nurse Practitioner specializing in neurology and sleep disorders. She became interested in this film in 1990, having worked as an epilepsy nurse specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. Her original work in discovering the origins of the medical scholarship in the film has since been further researched and expanded.



    Steve

  2. #22
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    ...........where Peter falls in love and has his supposed hallucinations....!


    Well, I don't want to upset you, Stevie....



    But...



    I must admit I thought they were hallucinations as well......



    I would rather they were not, so if I am wrong, I will gladly admit my mistake.

  3. #23
    Super Moderator Country: England
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    But it doesn't explain the sudden reappearance of the book, and the judge being the double of the surgeon Carter never sees...PnP, as in Blimp on occasion, like to leave things.....a matter of opinion. TimR, if you would like a good background on this great film, get hold of Ian Christie's monograph on it in the BFI's Film Classic series.. BFI Filmstore Individual Film Guides It's particularly good on the sources, and the Shakespearean, Miltonian aspects of it.

  4. #24
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    But it doesn't explain the sudden reappearance of the book, and the judge being the double of the surgeon Carter never sees...PnP, as in Blimp on occasion, like to leave things.....a matter of opinion. TimR, if you would like a good background on this great film, get hold of Ian Christie's monograph on it in the BFI's Film Classic series.. BFI Filmstore Individual Film Guides It's particularly good on the sources, and the Shakespearean, Miltonian aspects of it.
    To say nothing of the other repeated character. Kathleen Byron plays the Angel in "the other place". But she's also the one that holds the garage door open for Doc Reeves.



    Some people have suggested that like The Wizard of Oz, all the characters in "the other place" are people that Peter Carter knew on earth.



    Other people have suggested that Peter is struggling to avoid the rigid bureaucracy that we see there.



    But that all misses the vital point that Peter never gets to the top of the escalator. Or not where we see him do so. Although he does describe quite a lot about the organisation there to Doc Reeves (who then tells the American doctor about it). But Peter might have heard that second hand from Conductor 71.



    And is that "rigid bureaucracy" so terrible? It's only the reception area. Do we judge a city by its airport?



    The American airmen led by Bonar Colleano make a big fuss, have a coca cola, sign in, get their wings and then they walk through a doorway. As they walk through the door that we never see through - leading into heaven itself we assume and one of the city boys, who's been quite brash up until then says "Home was never like this" and the quiet country boy says in a lovely mid-west twang "Mine was" <sob>



    Steve

  5. #25
    Super Moderator Country: England
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    To say nothing of the other repeated character. Kathleen Byron plays the Angel in "the other place". But she's also the one that holds the garage door open for Doc Reeves.


    Steve
    Are you sure about this???....I'm assuming you mean when he's wheeling his bike into the rain that last fateful ride - I'm pretty sure that's his previously seen Housekeeper.....

  6. #26
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    You said about the medical aspects. They are rather detailed aren't they? In fact they intrigued Diane Friedman, a Nurse Practitioner specializing in neurology and sleep disorders. She became interested in this film in 1990, having worked as an epilepsy nurse specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. Her original work in discovering the origins of the medical scholarship in the film has since been further researched and expanded.



    Steve
    I just read through that - it appears clear that it was supposed to be an elaborate hallucination. Otherwise, why would P&P go through all the trouble of following closely some very specific - and unique - medical details?

  7. #27
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Are you sure about this???....I'm assuming you mean when he's wheeling his bike into the rain that last fateful ride - I'm pretty sure that's his previously seen Housekeeper.....
    Yes, watch again - closely

    She's only lit by flashes of lightning, but it's Kathleen. She's also briefly visible in the doorway of the study when they're getting ready to go to the hospital. The housekeeper June speaks to on the phone has quite a different face



    Steve

  8. #28
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    I just read through that - it appears clear that it was supposed to be an elaborate hallucination. Otherwise, why would P&P go through all the trouble of following closely some very specific - and unique - medical details?
    Because they went to some amazingly detailed trouble for things that you hardly notice on first viewing - and also because they could take that much time and trouble. As Diane mentions in her paper, Michael Powell's father in law was a surgeon in the team run by Archibald McIndoe at East Grinstead. They dealt with all the severe physical traumas of the second world war, particularly pilots who had been badly burned. They pioneered a lot of amazing techniques to do with early reconstructive surgery and plastic surgery. As well as the physical damage they also had to deal with psychological damage to the young men. It was while Micky was talking to Joe Reidy about various injuries that Joe came out with the phrase about things moving in time, but not in space, which led to Conductor 71's ability to stop time.



    Emeric was also a great researcher and he found another source of information about olfactory and optical hallucinations caused by clots on the brain in A Journey Round My Skull by Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy. The narrator wittily & ironically recounts the onset of hallucinations and the brain operations he had to get rid of them. Often without anaesthetic so he could experience somebody prodding around inside his head!



    For another example of the care they took over the smallest of details, watch the scene where Conductor 71 goes down to earth to collect Peter from the operating table. Then watch carefully as they all walk into the ante-room where June is waiting. They walk straight through a glass panelled door! It's done so well and so beautifully that most people don't notice it. But then try to figure out how long it would have taken them to create that effect which is only on screen for about 5 seconds and that most people won't notice



    Steve

  9. #29
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Because they went to some amazingly detailed trouble for things that you hardly notice on first viewing - and also because they could take that much time and trouble. As Diane mentions in her paper, Michael Powell's father in law was a surgeon in the team run by Archibald McIndoe at East Grinstead. They dealt with all the severe physical traumas of the second world war, particularly pilots who had been badly burned. They pioneered a lot of amazing techniques to do with early reconstructive surgery and plastic surgery. As well as the physical damage they also had to deal with psychological damage to the young men. It was while Micky was talking to Joe Reidy about various injuries that Joe came out with the phrase about things moving in time, but not in space, which led to Conductor 71's ability to stop time.



    Emeric was also a great researcher and he found another source of information about olfactory and optical hallucinations caused by clots on the brain in A Journey Round My Skull by Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy. The narrator wittily & ironically recounts the onset of hallucinations and the brain operations he had to get rid of them. Often without anaesthetic so he could experience somebody prodding around inside his head!



    For another example of the care they took over the smallest of details, watch the scene where Conductor 71 goes down to earth to collect Peter from the operating table. Then watch carefully as they all walk into the ante-room where June is waiting. They walk straight through a glass panelled door! It's done so well and so beautifully that most people don't notice it. But then try to figure out how long it would have taken them to create that effect which is only on screen for about 5 seconds and that most people won't notice



    Steve
    Seeing the whole film is only a hallucination does change my view of it. Still a very fine film, of course, but I don't usually like films that portray transcendent experiences as merely hallucinations. Disappointing.



    Must think about it....

  10. #30
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Seeing the whole film is only a hallucination does change my view of it. Still a very fine film, of course, but I don't usually like films that portray transcendent experiences as merely hallucinations. Disappointing.



    Must think about it....
    I don't understand why you're so sure it's all just a hallucination.

    Diane's work just offers one possible reason. And she is mainly interested in discovering the accuracy of the description and diagnosis of a medical condition that would have only been recognised by a handful of people in 1946.



    Steve

  11. #31
    Senior Member Country: England
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    I saw Scorcese's 'Cape Fear' again last night. The deliberate artificiality of many scenes presumably was homage to P&P and/or maybe the original film? Also scenes fading into a screen of blank primary colours reminded me of P&P, particularly "The Red Shoes".

  12. #32
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    I saw Scorcese's 'Cape Fear' again last night. The deliberate artificiality of many scenes presumably was homage to P&P and/or maybe the original film? Also scenes fading into a screen of blank primary colours reminded me of P&P, particularly "The Red Shoes".
    When Canterbury Christ Church University opened their new Film & TV building, called "The Powell Building" of course, one of the guests of honour was Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese's multiple Oscar winning editor and Michael Powell's widow (Scorsese introduced them)



    Thelma gave us an illustrated talk on the influence of P&P in Scorsese's films. She started by saying that she'd asked Marty which were the best examples and he'd said that their influences are all over his films. But he doesn't copy anything from them, it's more subtle than that. It's because he knows P&P's films so well that they influence a lot of what he does. Of course they're not his only influence, but they are a major one.



    Marty's at the top of the list of Famous Fans of P&P



    Steve

  13. #33
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    I don't understand why you're so sure it's all just a hallucination.

    Diane's work just offers one possible reason. And she is mainly interested in discovering the accuracy of the description and diagnosis of a medical condition that would have only been recognised by a handful of people in 1946.

    Steve
    I've found A Matter of Life and Death works better for me from the premise that Powell and Pressburger were asked to make a film by the Ministry of Information with the mandate of protecting the relationship and goodwill between Britain and the USA.



    As with the medical condition I see basically everything in one world - where Peter is gravely ill, is reflected in another world with a large dollop of irony, the filmmakers must of had a lot of fun making this film.



    This film can be dissected to many thousands of pieces and looked at under a microscope for years to come and film scientists would still come out with different answers a multitude of hypothesis and conjecture and all come up with different answers because there is no one absolute in this film, why try and narrow such a wonderful film down to one explanation when its possibilities are endless, it's like taking a walk in The Elysian Fields.



    Simon

  14. #34
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    I don't understand why you're so sure it's all just a hallucination.

    Diane's work just offers one possible reason. And she is mainly interested in discovering the accuracy of the description and diagnosis of a medical condition that would have only been recognised by a handful of people in 1946.



    Steve
    I came to that conclusion based on your post about the medical info. I think what it comes down to is that I am thoroughly confused.

  15. #35
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    I came to that conclusion based on your post about the medical info. I think what it comes dfown to is that I am thoroughly confused.
    Oh, sorry about that. I didn't mean that post make you reach any positive conclusion one way or the other. But there's no need for confusion either, just leave it as ambiguous



    It's really more like Schr�dinger's cat. Peter could be imagining it all due to his medical condition, or it might have all really happened. Or maybe he died when he jumped and all of this is just what he wished happened.



    The film leaves it ambiguous and you can either plump for one answer or another, or leave it as ambiguous. Not everything has to be neatly resolved



    Steve

  16. #36
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    I've found A Matter of Life and Death works better for me from the premise that Powell and Pressburger were asked to make a film by the Ministry of Information with the mandate of protecting the relationship and goodwill between Britain and the USA.



    As with the medical condition I see basically everything in one world - where Peter is gravely ill, is reflected in another world with a large dollop of irony, the filmmakers must of had a lot of fun making this film.



    This film can be dissected to many thousands of pieces and looked at under a microscope for years to come and film scientists would still come out with different answers a multitude of hypothesis and conjecture and all come up with different answers because there is no one absolute in this film, why try and narrow such a wonderful film down to one explanation when its possibilities are endless, it's like taking a walk in The Elysian Fields.



    Simon
    Well they certainly had a lot of fun making it. Powell often said it was his favourite film because, even looking back from the end of his career, it was the one that let him play God and create a complete universe.



    In earlier films he had been given remarkable freedoms. He had a whole country to play in (with the assistance of the Government) in 49th Parallel. He rebuilt Canterbury Cathedral in A Canterbury Tale. He rebuilt the Himalayas in Buckinghamshire in Black Narcissus. He had the Royal Navy's Mediterranean fleet to play with in The Battle of the River Plate. But in AMOLAD he had the whole of time and space to play in.



    Remember as well the famous scene where Conductor 71 first comes to see Peter and as he moves from the monochrome "other place" to the brightly coloured Earth he says "Ah, one is starved of Technicolor, up there"



    Thelma Schoonmaker once described that as the Archers saying "We know it's artifice, you know it is, and we know you know. But let's still admire it because it's so well done". She also said "They were lifting up the curtain & letting us in on the joke. A rare privilege and an example of their confidence."



    Steve

  17. #37
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Oh, sorry about that. I didn't mean that post make you reach any positive conclusion one way or the other. But there's no need for confusion either, just leave it as ambiguous



    It's really more like Schr�dinger's cat. Peter could be imagining it all due to his medical condition, or it might have all really happened. Or maybe he died when he jumped and all of this is just what he wished happened.



    The film leaves it ambiguous and you can either plump for one answer or another, or leave it as ambiguous. Not everything has to be neatly resolved



    Steve
    Oh.....Ambiguous is not a word that fits easily into my vocabulary.



    I suppose I don't have much choice, though.



    Well, I will watch it again and form my own conclusions.

  18. #38
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    I've found A Matter of Life and Death works better for me from the premise that Powell and Pressburger were asked to make a film by the Ministry of Information with the mandate of protecting the relationship and goodwill between Britain and the USA.
    Its interestig to read this: I would never have known that Anglo-American relations were a significant - let alone central - theme in the film if I had not been watching for it. I knew about the mandate through Powell's autobiogaphy and this forum.



    In the film it is seems like a charming incidental theme, but hardly a significant issue. I would have noticed that it was a good "payback" joke on us (Americans) that the Englishman gets the American girl when so many G.I.s were going with English girls at the time. But otherwise, I would not have noticed it.



    A Canterbury Tale is far more effective and moving on that score.



    As with the medical condition I see basically everything in one world - where Peter is gravely ill, is reflected in another world with a large dollop of irony, the filmmakers must of had a lot of fun making this film.



    This film can be dissected to many thousands of pieces and looked at under a microscope for years to come and film scientists would still come out with different answers a multitude of hypothesis and conjecture and all come up with different answers because there is no one absolute in this film, why try and narrow such a wonderful film down to one explanation when its possibilities are endless, it's like taking a walk in The Elysian Fields.
    Well, I do like your Elysian Fields comment: nicely expressed.



    I suppose it is interesting to consider various possibilities. I had not expected the "mystery" aspect. I thought it would be more straightforward: either he's dead or not. Either it's real or not.



    Now I will never know for certain.

  19. #39
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    In the film it is seems like a charming incidental theme, but hardly a significant issue. I would have noticed that it was a good "payback" joke on us (Americans) that the Englishman gets the American girl when so many G.I.s were going with English girls at the time. But otherwise, I would not have noticed it.



    Well I don't want to get into guiding you into what maybe you should see as everyone has different angles but I don't see it quite like that and I'm not professing that what I am about to say is in any way the right way to see it..



    If Powell is having a joke at America it's a whimsical one at best, maybe someone like Steve knows more as to what if - any jokes where being played at the Americans expense but you have to remember it's June who saves Peter - June is the powerful player in this story - the American saving the Brit from destruction and the Brit is so worth saving because he is so beautiful - the uncommon person - then there's the end when June says ..



    "We Won! "



    Yes their love has won together, together they will stay.



    Analogies are at play all the time in this film.





    Back to the jokes I think more are being played on the British stereotype by Powell in the film and I've read somewhere that he might of been having a laugh at the war time documentary boys by placing the celestial world in black and white therefore saying that there is more realism in what goes on in the mind, more irony I think



    Simon

  20. #40
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Well I don't want to get into guiding you into what maybe you should see as everyone has different angles but I don't see it quite like that and I'm not professing that what I am about to say is in any way the right way to see it..
    Sure - always interested in the views of others. That is why I am here.



    If Powell is having a joke at America it's a whimsical one at best, maybe someone like Steve knows more as to what if - any jokes where being played at the Americans expense but you have to remember it's June who saves Peter - June is the powerful player in this story - the American saving the Brit from destruction and the Brit is so worth saving because he is so beautiful - the uncommon person - then there's the end when June says ..



    "We Won! "



    Yes their love has won together, together they will stay.



    Analogies are at play all the time in this film.




    Well, those analogies went right over my head. I feel like a blockhead.



    I was so caught up in the issue of whether or not it was a real experience that I missed a lot of the detail and (apparently) a lot of the depth.



    It is a great favorite with my wife, sister and mother - and I watched it with all three of them. (This was definitely not the case with Colonel Blimp or Tales of Hoffman)



    I kept asking questions about the hallucinations and the details and eventually my wife said: "Stop analyzing and just watch!" and my sister nodded and then shook her head in disgust.



    In other words: Shut up Tim



    Your comments gives me food for thought. I am very interested in Anglo-American relations (not always an easy issue ) and I was initially disappointed in that aspect. But there is clearly more than I was seeing - much more.



    Back to the jokes I think more are being played on the British stereotype by Powell in the film and I've read somewhere that he might of been having a laugh at the war time documentary boys by placing the celestial world in black and white therefore saying that there is more realism in what goes on in the mind, more irony I think
    Well, first, I don't mind the jokes on Americans about all. (Especially from P&P)



    And I did like the line about the B&W vs technicolor.

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