Thursday, January 12, 2012


The Red Shoes (1948) - Powell/Pressburger
Amazing. Can't think of a movie in the theme of ambition begetting the life of an artist better pronounced in such a grand and fantastical way than in The Red Shoes. The 25 minute The Red Shoes production sequence plays out like the live action version of deezzznee's Fantasia on acid. There are so many great visual ideas in that scene it's mindboggling. Even with full use of Technicolor, The Red Shoes has an aura of silent era films from make-up, actors (especially Marius Goring, who played gayest French guardian angel in A Matter of Life and Death and Anton Walbrook as the ruthless dance company owner), expressive lighting to set design, all taking cues from German Expressionism.

It's campy but there are enough cynicism and perversity in Powell & Pressburger films that I dig. I doubt their other films will top this but looking forward to Black Narcissus and Blimp.

Stairway to Heaven

A Matter of Life and Death (1946) - Powell/Pressburger
An English airman (David Niven) has a brief on-air conversation with a button nosed American radio operator, June (Kim Hunter) just before he jumps from his burning plane. It was supposed to be his last good bye to the world. But he finds himself washed up ashore, because a mistake was made upstairs. Blame goes to the horrible English weather. They try to recall him but he attests, citing that he had fallen in love with June. His plea is granted and the repeal process begins.

The film is a romantic fantasy in the highest order, sort of uplifting 'love conquers all' type right after the WWII. Not the type of films I normally watch. But it's very English and enjoyable. Constant back and forth between crazy Technicolor/B&W with great transitions to massive sets & matt paintings, and with real time freeze frames and reverse motions, the film is visually mad inventive. I can see its influence everywhere. It's a very charming film. Sad to see Dr. Frank go though.