The Films Of Michael Powell (A Matter Of Life And Death and Age Of Consent) Michael Powell

The Films Of Michael Powell (A Matter Of Life And Death and Age Of Consent) Michael Powell
His name might not boast the instant recognition of David Lean or Alfred Hitchcock but Michael Powell is arguably the most talented filmmaker to emerge from the early days of the British film industry. Working together with co-writer, co-producer and co-director Emeric Pressburger, Powell created some of the best and most influential films of the mid-20th century before vanishing into obscurity after the failure of his misunderstood masterpiece, Peeping Tom. His films have been slowly appearing on DVD thanks to the Criterion Collection but Columbia Pictures has stepped up for this excellent release that brings Powell and Pressburger's masterpiece, A Matter Of Life And Death, to North American DVD for the first time, along with Age Of Consent (the director's swansong made just before entering premature retirement). A Matter Of Life And Death is arguably the finest collaboration between Powell and Pressburger (collectively known as the Archers). They reached their creative peak during WWII creating films that received funding under the guise of being war propaganda but did far more thematically and cinematically than simply promote war causes. The film is about a British pilot (played by David Niven) who was supposed to die in battle but survived due to a mishap in the afterlife and must go on trial for his life. The movie is filled with the Archers' characteristically stunning imagery, from the lush Technicolors on Earth to the gorgeous black and white photography and stunning sets in Heaven. But beyond being a visual feast, the movie is also a light comedy, a romance, a meditation on the meaning of life and an allegory for the post-war relationship between Britain and America. Powell and Pressburger juggle all of the subplots and themes perfectly to create one of the true masterpieces of the British screen. This two-disc set also includes Michael Powell's final film, Age Of Consent, which is an interesting study of a tortured artist with some stunning visuals and solid performances from James Mason and a very young, very naked Helen Mirren. While the movie has value for scholars of Powell, there's no denying that this is a minor work in his oeuvre that pales in comparison to A Matter Of Life And Death. The DVD also features introductions to both films by Michael Powell super-fan Martin Scorsese, as well as contemporary interviews with Helen Mirren and a few crew members from Age Of Consent, along with a pair of audio commentaries by film scholars. It's quite a nice overall package that deserves shelf space in any self-respecting cinephile's collection. (Sony)