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A Matter Of Life And Death [DVD]

David Niven , Kim Hunter , Emeric Pressburger , Michael Powell    Universal, suitable for all   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
Price: 4.90 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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A Matter Of Life And Death [DVD] + The Ghost and Mrs. Muir [DVD] [1947] + Blithe Spirit [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: David Niven, Kim Hunter, Robert Coote, Kathleen Byron, Richard Attenborough
  • Directors: Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell
  • Writers: Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell
  • Producers: Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell, George R. Busby
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: ITV Studios Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 11 Jun 2007
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CX5N
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,220 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Briefed by the Ministry of Information to make a film that would foster Anglo-American relations in the post-war period, innovative filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, came up with A Matter Of Life And Death--an extravagant and extraordinary fantasy in which David Niven stars as a downed pilot who must justify his continuing existence to a heavenly panel of judges, because he has made the mistake of falling in love with an American girl (Kim Hunter) when he really should have been dead. National stereotypes are lampooned as the angelic judges squabble over his fate. In a neat reversal of expectations, the Heaven sequences are black and white, while Earth is seen in techni-colour. Daring cinematography mixes monochrome and colour, incorporates time-lapse images, and even toys with background 'time freezes' 50 years before "The Matrix". Roger Livesey and Raymond Massey lead the fine supporting cast, in what is one of the undoubted jewels of British cinema.

On the DVD: A Matter of Life and Death is presented in reasonably sharp 4:3 ratio with decent mono sound. Aside from English hard-of-hearing subtitles there are no extras. --Mark Walker

Product Description

United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Mono ), English ( Subtitles ), SPECIAL FEATURES: Biographies, Interactive Menu, Scene Access, Short Film, SYNOPSIS: Returning to England from a bombing run in May 1945, flyer Peter Carter's plane is damaged and his parachute ripped to shreds. He has his crew bail out safely, but figures it is curtains for himself. He gets on the radio, and talks to June, a young American woman working for the USAAF, and they are quite moved by each other's voices. Then he jumps, preferring this to burning up with his plane. He wakes up in the surf. It was his time to die, but there was a mixup in heaven. They couldn't find him in all that fog. By the time his "Conductor" catches up with him 20 hours later, Peter and June have met and fallen in love. This changes everything, and since it happened through no fault of his own, Peter figures that heaven owes him a second chance. Heaven agrees to a trial to decide his fate. ...A Matter of Life and Death ( Stairway to Heaven ) ( A Matter of Life & Death )

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powell & Pressburgers Best Film. 24 Sep 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Written, prduced & directed by Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger this film combines great charm and surrealism in this fantasy drama. Set in 1945 David Niven plays the best roll of his career, as Peter Carter a pilot who has to bale out of his crippled Lancaster Bomber without a parachute. Before baling out he makes radio contact with June (Kim Hunter) the last voice he expects to hear. In his last moments the couple who have never met form a bond. Miraculously he survives the fall, landing in the sea, being washed up on the beach close to where June lives. The couple meet and fall in love. Peter Carter should have died that night but due to a thick fog he was missed by his heavenly escort (Maurice Goring). Heaven must balance the books and Goring is sent to get him. Peter Carter is forced to appeal to a heavenly court for his right to live through his doctor friend (Roger Livesay). Both Goring & Livesay are superb. The special effects are brilliant for their day though at times the lack of them is rather quaint. For example when Maurice Goring announces that he has stopped time and 'everything is perfectly still' the rhodedendrums gently sway in the breeze next to his head. The use of both black & white, and Technicolor is imaginative and the heavinly scenes are quite surreal. The film can be viewed on different levels and it is not hard to see why a film made in 1946 so closely after World War 2 dealing with life, death and the after life should have been so popular. Firmly a product of its time this film in my opinion is one of the 20th century's best films and fully deserves a 5 star rating.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
It is rare to find a film of such devastating quality; the acting, dialogue, scenery, and cinematography are outstanding. Powell and Pressburger do more than justice to this surreal adventure of what we may expect in the 'next life' - I certainly hope it's like the film portrayal. There's a nice balance of witticism and irreverent comment, yet the focus of the film (for me, at least) is the very rational 'argument' of, when should someone die. I'd like to think we would all be allowed the same form of 'appeal' as Peter David Carter - perhaps that is the case!
Old or new, no other film touches this movie for it's consummate originality, and amazing film flair. This film will certainly never 'die' in my memory, however many times I sit down to watch it.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still highly entertaining film. 19 May 2005
David Niven stars as Peter, a squadron leader during World War II whose plane is about to crash after being hit by the enemy. All of his crew are dead. The radio controller from the airbase is a young American, June, who tries to persuade Peter to bail out before it is too late. Peter intends to do that but unfortunately he has no parachute. Still, deciding it's a better way to die, he jumps.
No one is more surprised than him when he awakes on a beach having been washed ashore close to his airbase. He meets June and it's love at first sight. However, Peter wasn't supposed to survive the crash but the 'angel' sent to meet him got lost in the fog and missed the 'appointment'. Now this being wants Peter to give up life and return with him to heaven. Peter refuses on the basis of his love for June and decides to appeal against his fate, something that hasn't been seen before, and a trial in Heaven follows.
In a reversal from most films of this type, the scenes in Heaven are shot in black and white whilst the Earthly scenes are shot in wonderfully vivid colour. This is a film that has stood the test of time and is as good to watch today as it has ever been, proof that special effects and a frenetic pace do not beat a good, well acted story. Wonderful stuff.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic film but misleading packaging 4 Jan 2003
An excellent film by Powell and Pressburger, and perhaps their most mainstream Technicolor film. The Carlton DVD, however, is not as clean as it could be, but the main thing to watch out for is the "Exclusive behind the scenes commentary" by Jack Cardiff. This is not a second audio track featuring commentary by the great Cinematographer, but merely a 10-minute video interview. So beware.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Film 29 Mar 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The story about a Lancaster bomber pilot (David Niven) who bails out of his stricken plane without a parachute, convinced it is his time to die. However, he wakes up the next morning on a beach after his spiritual guide 'misses him in the English fog'. The spirit world is up in arms because he is on borrowed time and he should be in heaven not earth. He fights for his freedom to stay with his girlfriend (a radio operator who he was convinced was the last person he'd talk to before he died) against the Spiritual High Court.
I remember watching this with my mother back in the early 1970s. My mother died at Easter during 1975 and I recall a great deal of sadness then as a child. However, when I saw this film again it helped me a lot to come to terms with what had happened and it fuelled a belief in me about life after death and we all meet up again when we leave this earthly life to go to the spirit world. The film was ahead of its time when it was released with time lapse photograpy freezing characters at certain points of the film when his spirit guide visited him to try and take him to the other side.
A wonderful film. I never tire of watching it over and over on DVD.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Popular 1940s film
Interesting older film set between heaven and earth which took some thinking through. Another viewing would give even deeper meaning
Published 1 month ago by StellaR
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic
One of my favourites, have watched it many times, I love David Niven, loved the effects, very good for its day, wonderful storey line.
Published 2 months ago by Jane Lund
5.0 out of 5 stars Best film ever
I had this on video. Times move on and I had to too. So I found this on here. Pleased as a squirrels bits!
This is one of the best films ever.
Published 3 months ago by K
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Film
What a brilliant film, full of drama and such great atmosphere. Acted out brilliantly. A must see for anyone. Really enjoy watching this film over and over again.
Published 4 months ago by Russell Clinton
5.0 out of 5 stars Memory lane
Love this film as a child , and been looking for ages for it , then found out what it was called and ordered it
Published 5 months ago by KMD
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic of its genre...
Classic film of its genre. Way ahead of its time. Astonishingly creative and imaginative. Remarkably well realised when you consider the technical limitations of the time.
Published 5 months ago by Mr. D. Higgs
5.0 out of 5 stars A brain teaser
The Film has an all star cast. You can tell from the quality and pacing that this is a Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger movie. It was made after WWII. Read more
Published 5 months ago by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars masterpiece
I have watched this film time after time since I was a child and it never ever ceases to amaze me.This film to my mind is the" SERGEANT PEPPER" /" ASTRAL WEEKS" of... Read more
Published 6 months ago by GEEBEE
5.0 out of 5 stars Ideal Christmas present
Always a favourite and it still holds true through the ages David Niven is great
even the slightly cardboardy scenes were acceptable-it is after all an old classic
with... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Felicity
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless classic
This is one of the outstanding movies you must see at sometime in your life.
The dvd provides excellent quality , an endearing storyline which gives you that "feel... Read more
Published 7 months ago by R. Stewart
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