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4.5 out of 5 stars
43
4.5 out of 5 stars
The Edge Of The World [Blu-ray] [1937] [Region Free] [DVD]
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on 21 April 2017
Great Just what i wanted
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on 30 May 2017
Okay - the acting is a bit wooden and the story a little unbelievable - but the scenery and the underlying harshness of life on a small island is breath taking. All in all - you won't get to the end of the film and think that you have totally wasted an hour and a half of your life (like I have done with many modern films).

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.
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on 20 December 2010
As a Powell and Pressburger fan, and having read Powell's memoirs, I was naturally interested in seeing the film that helped to 'break' Michael Powell to a wider audience. I was also curious to see how the title fared in a comparison with IKWIG (I Know Where I'm Going).
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.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 24 July 2010
It was wonderful news to see that the BFI have released this worthy film in blu-ray format. It is a truly fascinating film written and directed by Michael Powell. The story is based around the real island of St Kilda which was abandoned by the inhabitants in the early 1930s. St Kilda is an extremely remote island out in the Atlantic West of the Hebrides. Its remoteness lends it a romantic mystique. But for those inhabitants at that time life on the edge of the world was extremely tough. Famine was a reality. If storms kept them from their larder the sea they often went hungry. Life was often as short as it was hard. The great director Flaherty had already explored this life in his landmark documentary "Man of Aran". Powell had actually watched Flaherty wrestle with the raw material for 3 years for this film. Well that is the brief background.

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. This is definitely a film for the connoisseur, and deserving of a comfortable five stars. Some of the blu-ray images, of the sea scapes especially, are gin clear, doing full justice to the natural wonders of stunningly beautiful Foula, and belying the age of this lovely little film.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 April 2013
This 1937 film by the great British film-maker Michael Powell, who, of course, went on to make a number of classic films (The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, etc) with screen-writer Emeric Pressburger, is an evocative, romantic and dramatic tale of an isolated community on a remote Scottish island. Based on the real-life evacuation of the Outer Hebridean island of St Kilda, although actually shot on Foula (part of the Shetlands), at the heart of The Edge Of The World is the tale of two families, the Mansons, led by father Peter (John Laurie) with twins Robbie (Eric Berry) and Ruth (Belle Chrystall), the latter of whom is in love (Romeo and Juliet-style) with Andrew (Niall MacGinnis), the son of (friendly) rival to the Hansons, James Gray (Finlay Currie).

What emerges from Powell's film, probably above all else, is the man's affectionate feelings for this far-flung rural community - fond subject matter that he was to revisit on later films such as The Spy In Black, set on and around the Orkneys, and the romantic classic I Know Where I'm Going, set on Mull. (The other obvious comparator for Powell's film is Robert Flaherty's 1934 island epic, Man of Aran). The BFI's superlative restoration and Ernest Palmer's (and others) excellent camerawork (no doubt under the expert tutelage of Powell himself) serve to create an authentic backdrop for the film. This is a resilient, strictly religious community, whose only form of communication with the outside world is (literally) via messages in bottles (thrown out to sea), as they go about their business of sheep shearing (and rescuing), fishing and peat cutting, with entertainment being provided for now and again in the form of a small-scale ceilidh.

Not only is the setting for Powell's film on 'the edge of the world', but the islanders' livelihood is teetering on the edge of viability, as most younger members of the community (including Peter's son Robbie) seek to leave the island ('the world's changed') for better prospects on the mainland. Unable to decide, via the island's small-scale 'parliament', on whether to vacate Hirta (the Scottish Gaelic name for St Kilda that Powell gave to his fictional island), the two sons, Robbie and Andrew challenge each other (in traditional fashion) to climb the island's tallest sea cliff for the right to determine their future. There follows a superb sequence showcasing Powell's nascent visual and dramatic flair (plus moments of Hitchcockian suspense to boot) as the two rivals risk life and limb against the extraordinary island and marine backdrop.

Acting-wise, of course, given that many of Powell's cast were either complete novices, or relatively inexperienced, the film has its fair share of stilted dialogue. However, each of Berry, Chrystall and MacGinnis are generally nicely affecting, whilst Finlay Currie as Gray Snr. is (as ever) excellent and wryly comic (quipping to the priest, 'Grand sermon John, one hour and fifteen minutes. Let them beat that in Edinburgh if they can!'). But the thespian honours must go to John Laurie's dour (though eventually smiling) traditionalist, Manson Snr., in effect a reincarnation of his crofting character in The 39 Steps (made two years earlier) and one that he (no doubt) frequently re-used right through to his fabulous Sergeant Fraser in Dad's Army.

For the DVD, the BFI have performed a remarkably good restoration, resulting in an unblemished black-and-white 'print'. Among the excellent extras included are a commentary by Ian Christie and Thelma Schoonmaker, a documentary on Powell's return to Foula 41 years later and a documentary on St Kilda.

Obviously, The Edge Of The World is not as polished or substantive as some of Powell's later masterpieces, but it is nevertheless a fine piece of work (particularly for its time) and a significant portent of things to come.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 25 September 2008
This is a fascinating film written and directed by Michael Powell. The story is based around the real island of St Kilda which was abandoned by the inhabitants in the early 1930s. St Kilda is an extremely remote island out in the Atlantic West of the Hebrides. Its remoteness lends it a romantic mystique. But for those inhabitants at that time life on the edge of the world was extremely tough. Famine was a reality. If storms kept them from their larder the sea they often went hungry. Life was often as short as it was hard. The great director Flaherty had already explored this life in his landmark documentary "Man of Aran". Powell had actually watched Flaherty wrestle with the raw material for 3 years for this film. Well that is the brief background.

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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on 5 October 2016
This film is the work of a still young and somewhat inexperienced Michael Powell as Director, and creative driving force.
In many ways it is more of a social document, mourning the loss of a way of subsistence living on Scotland's bleakly beautiful outermost islands.
Filmed on Foula, it purports in the film to take place on Hirta, the largest and once permanently occupied island in the Hebridean St Kilda group.
Michael Powell was apparently refused permission to film on St Kilda which had been evacuated by its' permanent occupants a few years before this film was made in 1936.
With a mix of local Foula inhabitants, and a handful of professional actors including John Laurie (decades later to play Frasier in Dad's Army), the film is a little pedestrian by today's standards, but the scenery ( including towering cliffs overlooking the sea ), and the depiction of a small island community, make the film a worthwhile watch for me. Without giving away any spoilers, the plot surrounds the debate the islanders are having about whether they can remain on the island, or should they seek help to be evacuated and rehoused on the mainland.
Despite facing the same problems as St Kilda, of many of its' younger inhabitants emigrating to the mainland or further afield, l understand that Foula still has a population of 30+ people!
The inhabitants built their own small airfield which allowed Powell, Laurie and a couple of others involved in the original project to return to Foula to make a short rather fanciful documentary decades later.
This is included in the extras, along with another short black and white documentary of St Kilda itself, from the thirties, probably made largely for showing in Glasgow cinemas to encourage tourist trips to that island group.
The original feature film and docus are still in reasonable condition for their age, and subtitles in English are also available for the hard of hearing, or for bits of dialogue people are unsure of.
Some of Scotland's outermost isles in the Hebrides, Orkneys and Shetlands have housed military and/or research centres over the decades, and this along with developments in electricity generation, radio and satellite technology, and the building/rebuilding of schools etc. has made viable some continuing occupancy by small communities once isolated for large parts of the year due to treachorous weather conditions.
But the very basic way of life of whole communities surviving through subsistence crofting, eked out by the cottage industry of cloth production, together with some fishing, and the capturing of sea birds and their eggs from the precipitous rock faces of the cliffs, has l believe pretty much died out.
As well, l hope, has the old feudal system of total ownership of the islands by the lairds. Some islanders l understand also had their own Gaelic dialect variations, as well as Gaelic or Norse traditions and beliefs.
If interested, there are many books available through Amazon, about St Kilda and other island groups written by people either with first hand knowledge, or through research.
It is a subject l admit l know very little about, but this dvd may whet your appetite for further investigation if you are not already interested in these islands, their histories and communities yourself.
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on 8 August 2011
Inspired by real-life events on the remote island of St Kilda, and shot on the nearly-as-remote island of Foula, this is an excellent portrait of life in the outermost reaches of the UK. Some of the acting is a little bit 1930s penny-dreadful, but John Laurie and Finlay Currie are ever-reliable, and at times, the film has an almost documentary feel. And the scenery is stunning. If you can't get out to these places yourself, this will give you a great feel for what it's like out there.

Excellent additional features, in the form of travelogue footage from the 1920s, and a 'going-back-there' feature from thw 1970s when Foula had just acquired an airstrip.
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on 9 June 2009
The island of Foula in the Shetlands is the leading player in this visually stunning and dramatically satisfying film. Other reviewers have filled in the historical events behind Powell's idea for the film. To fit the stark, wind swept geography he has created a story equally sharply etched (a touch of Greek tragedy, one feels about it), carried off with conviction and gusto by an excellent cast. As with many Powell films, there is great value in the achievement as a social document, as well as an entertainment. The picture and sound quality are brilliant for their age, and the film-making methods quite stunning at times. Enduring cinema.
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on 6 January 2010
In this stunning film, Michael Powell weaves a story around the evacuation of the Atlantic island of St Kilda, using the landscape and the people of another Atlantic, and still inhabited, island - Foula. If you know anything about the evacuation of St Kilda, and if you know and love Foula (or have even just seen its haunting silhouette on the horizon), you will find the film full of odd discrepancies. It's best to think about it as a fictional story about the death of an imaginary island community. Apart from all this, the film is full of memorable scenes of Shetland life, digging and flitting peats, grinding grain in a horizontal mill, rooing sheep, knitting, growing kale in a planticrub etc etc. The photography is fantastic, and the landscape of Foula is beautiful beyond words.
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