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Customer Review

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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