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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powell & Pressburgers Best Film.
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...
Published on 24 Sep 2000 by andymason@super-jewel.demon.co.uk

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars pure bliss
The first film I saw on colour television after the black and white era spent in South Africa. Aged just seven years old I was puzzled by the switch from B/W to colour in the film but transfixed by the spectacle. Nearly 20 years on I saw it again and was equally transfixed by the acting, script, score, tone and pacing.

P&P's best, just eclipsing Blimp for my...
Published on 5 July 2006 by QuerCus


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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powell & Pressburgers Best Film., 24 Sep 2000
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
5.0 out of 5 stars "Excuse me brother......." Magnificent on every occasion!, 26 Mar 2002
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
By 
Ms. H. Sinton "dragondrums" (Ingleby Barwick. U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Matter Of Life And Death [DVD] (DVD)
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
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A. Nebbs (Hong Kong) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Matter Of Life And Death [DVD] (DVD)
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
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This review is from: A Matter Of Life And Death [DVD] (DVD)
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powell & Pressburger masterpiece, 26 Nov 2001
By 
Ian Cooper - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Matter Of Life And Death [DVD] (DVD)
While 'Black Narcissus' and 'The Red Shoes' are Powell & Pressburger's better-known films, this should be the one that defines their genius. They were decades ahead of their time, and until Kubrick appeared on the scene, no filmmaker was able to match their talent and fearlessness.
Sadly, their films are little-known in the US, and not much better-known in Britain. It would be sad indeed if their brilliant work was to fade into obscurity.
Buy this movie - take my word for it - it's fabulous!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best, 10 Jan 2004
By 
Philip Marsh "flip_martian" (Hanslope, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Matter Of Life And Death [DVD] (DVD)
I first saw this on TV in my teens. What an amazing film! Seen it contless times since - I bought it on VHS, now have it on DVD. The atmosphere, the pacing, the cinematography... A timeless film, well acted with an extraordinary story (for the time, I imagine).
The black and white sequences are beautifully toned, the colour ones contrast quite vividly to illustrate what's reality and what isn't.
Over 20 years later and I still pull it out for a viewing now and again. The DVD incidentally is a fine way of having this film.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A matter of enriching your life - a griity romantic classic, 25 Nov 2003
By 
Ms D Grover (Stoke Newington, London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
An absolutely uplifting, dramatic, romantic, gripping classic of all time. If you've never seen it - BUY IT NOW - you will be moved, charmed even hypnotised by its absolute charasmatic qualities. David Niven is superb (as always) but it is the outstanding performances of the lesser known actors & actresses who really make this a film to pour over again and again. The directors sheer brilliance of switching between colour & black & white adds such drama & atmosphere - your life will be enriched by seeing this film.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transcendental Propaganda, 22 Mar 2003
This review is from: A Matter Of Life And Death [DVD] (DVD)
Surely the high point of Niven's long acting carear, this wonderful film has been admired and imitated for nearly six decades (think of "Jacob's Ladder" or Spielberg's "Always" just for starters). The magical switches between black & white and technicolor, and the 'frozen time' effects are both pioneering and flawless, but it is the warmth and humanity of this film's narrative that lingers a lifetime in the memory.
A British WWII pilot and part-time poet (Niven) is shot down over the south coast of England. His canopy won't open and his plane is on fire and in a dive, yet he wakes up miraculously saved on the beach. In fact, he has been saved only by a beaurocratic oversight in heaven, and his life must be defended in a celestial court of law.
No marks for the extras, though, on this DVD edition.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique yet little-known film., 16 Jun 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: A Matter Of Life And Death [DVD] (DVD)
The opening scenes of this film are perhaps the most gripping you will ever see. The tremendous pan across the universe, finally arriving at the skies over Europe on the night of a thousand bomber raid are never forgotten and never cease to send a shiver down my spine. But to class this film simply as having a terrific opening would be to do it a terrible injustice. It is, in short, a story that speaks to us all on that one great question - what happens when I die? A truly magnificent film and one that will change your life. No kidding!
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