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The Edge Of The World [Blu-ray]  [Region Free] [DVD]
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THE EDGE OF THE WORLD (Blu-ray)
A film by Michael Powell
When the skipper of a tourist yacht (Niall MacGinnis), lands reluctantly on the remote shores of Hirta - the now-deserted Hebridean island of his birth - he is overwhelmed by memories from a time before its evacuation. A powerful story of love, rivalry and survival against the harsh elemental realities of island life and an ever-encroaching modernity, The Edge of the World is the first independent production by legendary British director Michael Powell.
- All content presented in High Definition
- Main feature presentation overseen and approved by Michael Powell's widow, award-winning editor Thelma Schoonmaker-Powell
- Full-feature commentary by Thelma Schoonmaker-Powell and Professor Ian Christie with extracts from Powell's book about the making of the film, 200,000 feet on Foula read by Daniel Day-Lewis
- Alternative scenes (1944, 9 mins): specially shot for a shorter version of the film released in 1944
- Original trailer (2 mins)
- Return to the Edge of the World (Michael Powell, 1979, 24 mins): Michael Powell returns to Foula with cast and crew
- Michael Powell's home movies narrated by Thelma Schoonmaker-Powell (c.1995, 7 mins): Powell in the Scottish highlands
- St Kilda - Britain's Loneliest Isle (Topical Productions, 1923/1928, 16 mins): a travelogue from St Kilda
- Fully illustrated booklet with new essay by Professor Ian Christie, a contemporary review, promotional materials and credits
UK | 1937 | black & white | English, optional hard-of-hearing subtitles | 75 minutes + 58 minutes | BD25 | Ratio 1.37:1 | 1080p | 24fps | PCM mono audio (48k/24-bit) | Region free blu-ray
I hope everyone who can will make a point of seeing The Edge of the World -- --C A Lejeune, Observer
Thrilling… The Edge of the World is a great British film --The Telegraph
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Top customer reviews
I also highly recommend that you watch the extras and the 1920's documentary film with commentary is worth the price of the whole dvd. Excellent viewing.
First off, the film itself has received excellent treatment by the blu-ray boffins under the watchful eye of Thelma Schoonmaker. It looks very good for the most part. It is easy to appreciate Powell's developing filmic eye, and the film is a fascinating document in that respect. As with many of his later films, there is a clear sense of place throughout. It certainly looks the part, and I had to keep reminding myself that it was made in the late 1930's.
For me, I can see why the cast held the piece in such affection, especially given the pleasures and hardships of on-location shooting, but the story failed to draw me in to the same extent as IKWIG. It feels a less mature piece of work, and the dialogue is not as satisfying as when in the hands of Pressburger. It is still 'well worth the price of admission' though, and some of the scenes (Laurie carrying a struggling sheep up a cliff on his shoulders while hauling on a rope, anyone?!) are breathtaking, and make you question how they were done, and whether Health and Safety would allow them to be done today. Powell's interest in the island community is palpable.
Overall a film well worth buying for anybody with a keen interest in this British directing great, and one that I will be watching again. While it didn't grab me outright at first viewing, feeling more of a curio, it may well be a 'grower', and it has an important place in film history.
The extras are thin, and it is a shame that the accompanying documentary could not have enjoyed a clean up of its own, as visually it as rough as old boots. Although stilted to the modern viewer, the sight of Powell and Laurie reminiscing about 'the making of' many years later and back on location has a haunting quality of its own.
If you watch this film I would thoroughly recommend you try to get hold of a copy of Powell's magnificent book "Edge of the World, The Making of a film", published by Faber and Faber Ltd in 1990. Originally published as "200,000 feet on Foula", which referred to the amount of film used on the island, it was first published in 1938. I usually find books on the cinema to be tedious, but this one is not. The book is all about Powell's preparation for and the making of "Edge of the World". It is certainly one of the best books ever written about the film industry. It is an epic story in itself and is an insight into the great man. The film was shot on location on the Isle of Foula in the Shetlands, some way north of the Scottish mainland, and almost as difficult to get to as St Kilda itself. Foula is remote even amongst the lonely Shetland group. It has the distinct feel of Ultima Thule, which is from the ancient Greek and refers to the place at the end of the world. As you can imagine the logistics of filming here in the thirties must have seemed daunting. Which indeed it proved to be. But the location is everything for this film. It lends it an impressive sweep and air of authenticity. Foula has dramatic cliffs and seascapes just as St Kilda does. It also has atrocious changeable weather conditions which made filming hard. Powell went to similar lenths as Kurosawa did to bring in "Dersu Uzala", battling heroically with the elements for the sake of art. Does he pull it off? A resounding yes on every level! Pause to reflect that this film was made way back in 1938. Powell shows his great vision early in an illustrious career.
The casting was perfect. The great Scottish actors Hugh Lawrie and Finlay Currie being the best known amongst a modest cast of actors and actresses. The locals of Foula were also used. Nothing bigger happened at Foula before or since. Powell shows how the locals lived with surprising accurracy. The gathering of sea birds eggs from vertiginous cliff faces being the most memorable. Oh, and look out for Powell's brief Hitchcock like appearance at the start as the yachtsman!
But there is more to this film than historical accuracy. Watch Powell's brilliant fade outs and double exposures which enhance this film. Thank goodness for the National Film Archives wonderful and deserving restoration. It also contains the very welcome little documentary "Return to Foula", which unlike so many extras is actually very worthwhile. I heartily recommend you immerse yourself in this lovely film. If you have a true heart for the joy of cinema you will love this. A comfortable five stars. Highly recommended.
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