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  1. #1
    Jack.C. Warner
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    Recently, RTE1 Irelands BBC1 showed AMOLAD. Fergus McCormack wrote a piece about it. I thought you would like to read it:



    It's a delightfully fantastic tale that examines various British and American stereotypes while also managing to be a moving love story along the way. The chemistry between the two leads, David Niven and Kim Hunter, is excellent and the supporting cast, with the exception of a over-hammy Raymond Massey, is convincing, particularly P&P regular Roger Livesey. Probably the most striking aspect of the film is Alfred Junge's production design, notably the staircase which leads from technicolour Earth to near-monochrome Heaven. The beauty of the photography is there for all to see in this restored version of the film, which was set in train by Martin Scorsese, a longtime Michael Powell fan who used the skills of Powell's widow, editor Thelma Schoonmaker, to great effect in many of his own films." He gives the film a Five star's must not be missed.



    All of which I agree with though I think he was to Raymond Massey the complete HAM. I would have posted this in the P&P pages but I didn't want it lost in all the crud. Cheers.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Tavernier on A Matter of Life and Death.



    Bertrand Tavernier on Powell and Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death (1946). Interview by John Whitley





    At the age of 61, after gaining a galaxy of international awards for his 19 feature films and twice that number of documentaries, French director Bertrand Tavernier is planning a new "political" documentary while travelling the globe for premieres of his latest feature, Laissez-passer. Set in occupied France, it got two Silver Bears in Berlin and it's going to the New York film festival, before being released at the London Film Festival in November.



    Tavernier has always stood out from the crowd. While most of his fellow rookie directors of the Nouvelle Vague spent the Fifties discovering the delights of American murder mysteries, he was a solitary admirer of the British school. Now the eminence grise of French cinema, he is confident that he had chosen the right model for his talents.



    "I've always admired British cinema of the Thirties and Forties, in particular the work of Michael Powell," he says. "And I'm absolutely certain that Powell was one of my very greatest influences - I still feel totally linked to his work. He gave me a lot of courage when I was beginning, just by watching his films because they were incredibly daring. He was always experimenting, never hiding behind one style or one subject.



    "Powell and his partner, Emeric Pressburger, had an ideal way of working which, for a long time, gave them complete freedom in their choice of subject or style of production, and I try to imitate them. I have my own production company and take very little money from my films, but I keep a share of the rights to the negative and put any profits to the next project. That's how one keeps free."



    For Tavernier, the key film is Powell and Pressburger's 1946 epic A Matter of Life and Death, starring David Niven. He is hugely engaging as Peter Carter, a British Second World War bomber pilot who, as his burning plane plummets towards the ground, falls for the comforting, American, female voice on the other end of his radio. Although his time was supposed to be up, a celestial oversight (a la Heaven Can Wait) causes him to cheat death, and he and the radio operator (Kim Hunter) soon meet. Love instantly blossoms between them - but heaven wants its due, and Peter is forced to try to persuade a pearly court to let him live.



    "Every time I have a moment of doubt," says Tavernier, "it's one of the films I look at to give me confidence. In fact, I must have seen it at least 15 times and I also have it at home on DVD. It's full of ideas - sometimes too many ideas - and with some superb love scenes. But it was also an experimental film - quite extraordinary for that time.



    "It goes from reality to fantasy, from black and white to colour, from the real world to the world above. At the same time, it is totally rooted in the reality of the period. It was made, I think, on the suggestion of the Foreign Office. They invited Powell to do a film about the relationship between the British and Americans, which was deteriorating at that time, and instead of doing a dull documentary he made this flamboyant drama with an angel where the hero dies during the first scene - or rather, his airplane crashes and yet he doesn't die.



    "Before that, it has one of the most daring opening sequences. It starts by a tracking shot in the universe, among the stars with a voice which says, 'This is the universe - big, isn't it?' That's a wonderful line!



    "And the shot travels through the entire solar system," he continues, "before coming down to the earth and then the coast of England and Europe with burning cities during a bombing raid. And this tracking shot goes on and down into a typical British fog - from the entire solar system into a British fog! And finally it comes to a plane in flames where everyone is dead.



    "The film has the quality of the best British writers - Kipling, Chesterton, Stevenson - and at the same time a feeling of Europe. It's an incredibly stimulating piece of work."



    Tavernier's admiration extended even to bringing Powell into his own life. "I first met him after I was helping a friend arrange the French showing of his Peeping Tom," he says. "I also used him as an actor in my second film - but I had to cut that scene in the end. And I published his marvellous autobiography in France - in two volumes. He writes at the end that he would like to put on his gravestone 'Amateur' and 'Our hobby was making films'. I would like to have that on my grave - that my joy, my passion was to make films. It's not a job, it's not a craft, it's a passion."

  3. #3
    Member Country: England
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    This is my all time favourite - it's the film that got me into films, and Powell/Pressburger films in particular.



    I first saw it as a child when it was on TV in the 70's and I haven't been able to get enough of it ever since.



    Every time I watch it I find there's something new to move me or thrill me, especially in Roger Livesey's performance.



    It saddens me that Michael Powell fell out of favour so completely after he made "Peeping Tom" - a victim of his own innovative film making.

  4. #4
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    For those that don't alrady know (I'm not shy about announcing it) it's my favourite as well.



    See also the many reviews, articles and other information and also lots of pictures

  5. #5
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    AMOLAD - ah, what a film! I first saw it on a small black and white TV in a dismal bedsit while I was a student in the 1980s. Even though I did not get the colour-monochrome contrast it had such a powerful effect on me. I was mouth agape at the end in astonishment at the shere invention, wit and courage of it all. I had to rush out and walk the streets for an hour to calm down! Until then I had believed the critical hype about realism being the proper business of British films - what rubbish! AMOLAD made me realise that romance and fantasy can make the world a beautiful place. i began a long love affair with the films of the Archers. Thanks you AMOLAD.



    Don Henson

  6. #6
    Senior Member Country: United States theuofc's Avatar
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    David Niven played David Niven...oh, that is so funny, Steve. I suspect you are right given Niven's wit and attitude toward Life.



    First off, spurred on by the terrific review of the film by BT, and the member comments in here, I pursued AMOLAD, and found a copy of it in...my local library! the last place I would have thought would have it here in the States. It's a wonderful film. I keep going back and reviewing another scene, it's that intriguing. First, I was taken aback at the introduction to the heavens! then I laughed at the creativity, fastened my seat belt, and sat back and let this innovative miracle of a film envelope me.



    Thanks for introducing me to it. How ever did I miss it.



    Barbara

  7. #7
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Glad to have introduced you to it Barbara thumbs_u



    What can I say, I've probably seen it more than any other film (& I've seen a LOT), I know it very well, I know what's going to happen next, I know how all the tricks were done - but it STILL has the power to make me laugh and make me cry.



    It just pushes all the right buttons for me. But I'm still amazed that a film made 55+ years ago can still have that effect on me.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Must-have movies: A Matter of Life and Death



    Philip Horne reviews a classic that every film-lover will want to own



    Powell and Pressburger's quite indescribable 1946 romantic fantasy-cum-propaganda fable must be the most experimental film that has ever been chosen for the Royal Command Film Performance. It is also one of the greatest British films ever made.



    The Archers - the production company formed by Michael Powell, the patriotic man of Kent whose artistic ambitions made him a citizen of the world, and his Hungarian émigré genius of a collaborator Emeric Pressburger - were at the peak of their artistic powers and their film industry clout. The war had just finished and AMOLAD, as lovers of "P&P" call it, ends with the heroine declaring: "We've won", as if the action concludes on VE Day itself.



    But, while it celebrates the post-war world to come, it equally presents a witty but tragic vision of the assembled hosts of the uniformed war dead in the court of heaven. As ever brilliantly reversing the expected, P&P render this bureaucratic, regimented, rather fallible heaven in pearly, chilling black and white. It's the day-to-day England below, in which hero and heroine battle courageously to live and love, that glows in rich, deeply affecting Technicolor.



    The emotionally wrenching yet ingeniously wrought plot lures one into passionate involvement through jokes and twists, constructing a bizarrely consistent fantasy world. About to bale out of his flaming bomber, doomed RAF pilot and poet Peter Carter (David Niven) speaks on the radio to American wireless operator June (Kim Hunter). Their poignant conversation leaves her, and us, in tears. When Peter miraculously survives and meets June in person, they fall in love; it seems he has escaped Conductor 71 (Marius Goring), the messenger of death sent to fetch him.



    But something's wrong: in surreal visitations, our hero is summoned to defend himself in the upper court - a crisis which is both a medically accredited hallucination (he needs brain surgery) and a spiritual reality for him.



    AMOLAD is visionary, magnificent, deeply touching - and very good fun.

  9. #9
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    AMOLAD is a wonderful work of art, even for me a self confessed athiest. The film is chock full of humanistic qualities that make it somewhat endearing.



    When a film touches both religous and non-religous people in equal measure, you realize just how powerful the cinema of P & P is.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Whilst watching this again on CH4 it dawned on me that if the year was apparently 1945 then the Churchill speech flying over the airwaves was broadcast a few years earlier.



    I will now don my flying jacket and man my guns as Mr Crook shoots me down in flames.

  11. #11
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    (DB7 @ Sep 24 2005, 11:33 PM)

    Whilst watching this again on CH4 it dawned on me that if the year was apparently 1945 then the Churchill speech flying over the airwaves was broadcast a few years earlier.



    I will now don my flying jacket and man my guns as Mr Crook shoots me down in flames
    Not totally, but I'll put you into a tailspin by reminding you that this was heard from outer space after our tour through the universe and if you're far enough away, it can take some years for the radio waves to reach you



    But the physics training I had tells me that however far away we are, if we can see the "burning point of fire" that had the thousand bomber raid, the radio waves would reach us at the same time as the light waves.



    Maybe there was a programme on an early version of Channel 4 where listeners could vote for their favourite Churchill speech



    I'd definitely vote for "dramatic licence" rather than a real goof.



    Steve

  12. #12
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    (Steve Crook @ Sep 24 2005, 11:49 PM)

    Not totally, but I'll put you into a tailspin by reminding you that this was heard from outer space after our tour through the universe and if you're far enough away, it can take some years for the radio waves to reach



    But the physics training I had tells me that however far away we are, if we can see the "burning point of fire" that had the thousand bomber raid, the radio waves would reach us at the same time as the light waves.



    Maybe there was a programme on an early version of Channel 4 where listeners could vote for their favourite Churchill speech



    I'd definitely vote for "dramatic licence" rather than a real goof.



    Steve
    Anyway, it would have be a bit much to expect the audience to sit in the cinema until 1950ish to hear the speech



    FELL

  13. #13
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    Glad to have introduced you to it Barbara thumbs_u


    What can I say, I've probably seen it more than any other film (& I've seen a LOT), I know it very well, I know what's going to happen next, I know how all the tricks were done - but it STILL has the power to make me laugh and make me cry.



    It just pushes all the right buttons for me. But I'm still amazed that a film made 55+ years ago can still have that effect on me.
    I watched this last night and that must have been the 20th time I have seen it. I was particularly looking for things that I may have missed and again I was not disappointed. How do P & P do that?? anyway the scene was when Niven wakes up on the beach and thinks that he is in the afterlife. He sees the boy with the flute and the animals and asks the boy where he should go. This scene up to now was breathtaking but when the boy says 'do you mean the airfield' and Niven says'Airfield' and at that very moment a plane flies over. That was an absolutely fantastic piece of filmaking. Dialogue,acting,scenes and timing, absolutely awesome. P & P were/are the Kings of English Film Making.

  14. #14
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    I watched this last night and that must have been the 20th time I have seen it. I was particularly looking for things that I may have missed and again I was not disappointed. How do P & P do that?? anyway the scene was when Niven wakes up on the beach and thinks that he is in the afterlife. He sees the boy with the flute and the animals and asks the boy where he should go. This scene up to now was breathtaking but when the boy says 'do you mean the airfield' and Niven says'Airfield' and at that very moment a plane flies over. That was an absolutely fantastic piece of filmaking. Dialogue,acting,scenes and timing, absolutely awesome. P & P were/are the Kings of English Film Making.
    English? Or British? They did a few in Scotland as well, and Powell made an early film in Wales



    But generally I won't argue with that last sentiment



    It always amuses me to see that although we see one of the statue plinths labelled Mohammed we never see him - because of course it is wrong to portray any representation of the prophet



    Steve

  15. #15
    Super Moderator Country: UK batman's Avatar
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    I have only seen AMOLAD once ... and that was very recently. I suppose that, in a way, I am quite lucky. I have seen it once, enjoyed it, now I get to watch it again and again and experience for the first time all the bits I missed on my initial viewing.



    It still hasn't dislodged ACT and TSBR as my favourite P&Ps ... but there's plenty of time.



    Bats.

  16. #16
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    David Niven played David Niven...oh, that is so funny, Steve. I suspect you are right given Niven's wit and attitude toward Life.



    First off, spurred on by the terrific review of the film by BT, and the member comments in here, I pursued AMOLAD, and found a copy of it in...my local library! the last place I would have thought would have it here in the States. It's a wonderful film. I keep going back and reviewing another scene, it's that intriguing. First, I was taken aback at the introduction to the heavens! then I laughed at the creativity, fastened my seat belt, and sat back and let this innovative miracle of a film envelope me.



    Thanks for introducing me to it. How ever did I miss it.



    Barbara
    I envy you seeing it for the first time.



    I did have one thought. Do you think they chose an actor with a big nose deliberately to play the judge so that viewers would recognise that he was the surgeon whilst wearing a mask?

  17. #17
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    I have become obsessed with AMOLAD and the acting of Roger Livesey. I have been reading some of the reviews on IMDB and am fuming at one of them. It quotes that the film is wonderful but flawed?? The film is flawless !!

    another quote is that the film just about hangs in there in the middle section where Peter falls in love and has his supposed hallucinations !!!!!!!!!!!! unbelievable comment, lastly no mention by name of the great Roger Livesey. This film is a masterpiece and if it is shown on a big screen I will be there!!



    Just about hangs in there !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. #18
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    I envy you seeing it for the first time.

    I did have one thought. Do you think they chose an actor with a big nose deliberately to play the judge so that viewers would recognise that he was the surgeon whilst wearing a mask?
    I think the close-up on him as the judge and the surgeon should have made that clear. I think they went for his air of gravitas and that wonderfully authoritative voice - but with a kindly smile



    Abraham Sofaer (for it is he) was a well respected actor although he usually got lumbered with just playing Levantine types. Born in Burma to Burmese-Jewish parents he lived in London for much of his life and made a good living on stage.



    Steve

  19. #19
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR'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.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    By the way - this thread took some time to find here. I assumed there must be a thread for a film as well loved and respected as this, but no one had posted on it for almost exactly a year!



    Oh, this should be addressed at highest level!



    What about a seperate section for Powell and Pressburger films?



    All in favor, say.....

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