HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Annette
Shepherd
Dying to Divorce
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn
Trouble with Being Born, The
Last Matinee, The
Strings, The
Free Hand for a Tough Cop
People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan
Dear Future Children
Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus
Swallow
Thin Red Line, The
Petite Maman
Fast & Furious 9
Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat
Sweet Thing
Maelstrom
Father, The
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Night House, The
Father of Flies
80,000 Years Old
Dead & Beautiful
Bull
Censor
Sleep
Freaky
Nightbooks
Whisker Away, A
Wild Indian
Whale Island
Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires
Don't Breathe 2
Closing Time
Cryptozoo
Weathering with You
Rim of the World
Love & Basketball
JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time
   
 
Newest Articles
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
   
 
  Matter of Life and Death, A Heaven Is A Place On Earth
Year: 1946
Director: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: David Niven, Kim Hunter, Roger Livesey, Marius Goring, Raymond Massey, Robert Coote, Abraham Sofaer, Joan Maude, Kathleen Byron, Richard Attenborough, Bonar Colleano, Robert Atkins, Bob Roberts, Edwin Max, Betty Potter, Robert Beatty, Lois Maxwell
Genre: War, Romance, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  10 (from 1 vote)
Review: This is the Universe... big, isn't it? And this is planet Earth, which seems peaceful spinning in space until you look closer and see the war raging in Europe, and the effects of a bombing raid on Germany. It is May 1945 and one of those British bombers is in a bad way as it crosses the English Channel in flames. The crew have bailed out, all except Bob Trubshawe (Robert Coote), who has been killed, and Squadron Leader Peter Carter (David Niven), who is still in the plane because his parachute has been irrepairably damaged. He contacts the Air Force base in what he believes will be his last message, and on the other end of the transmission is June (Kim Hunter), an American. As Peter asks her to record his final words, he speaks poetry to her and she falls in love with his voice, just as he falls in love with her. Then he must break off and jump from the bomber, knowing he will die... but what if he doesn't?

A Matter of Life and Death was originally conceived as a way of improving relations between Great Britain and the United States of America after the Second World War, but once producers, directors and scriptwriters Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger had finished with it, it was something far more profound than a simple public information message. The film merges fantasy and reality with a love story based in the final days of the conflict, a conflict that had claimed millions of lives across the globe and that is evidently what was on the filmmakers' minds - the enormity of that loss of life. It must have touched just about everyone in Britain and America, never mind the other countries, and here was a reassurance that the war dead had gone to a better place, that they really were safe.

Trubshawe is waiting loyally in the reception at the top of a huge moving staircase that leads to heaven, expecting Peter to arrive at any minute, but he fails to appear. A confused Trubshawe then starts asking uncomfortable questions of the staff who tell him there has never been a mistake, not for a thousand years at any rate, and if there was the alarm bell would ring - which it duly does. Yes, Peter is washed up alive on the beach, and once he realises he is alive and not dead, he can't believe his luck, especially when he meets June riding her bicycle back from the Air Force base and their relationship is secured. But the afterlife won't let Peter get away so easily, and send Conductor 71 (Marius Goring sublime as French nobleman) down to ask him to give up life and romance and accompany him back "upstairs".

Peter's meetings with the Frenchman lead June to think there is something seriously wrong with his head, and she goes to her friend the village doctor, Frank Reeves (Roger Livesey, never better) to see what can be done. He elects to humour Peter and go along with his stories of lodging an appeal to prevent him going to heaven now he has found happiness on Earth, and it's one of the ingenious aspects of the film that both the reality of a brain injury and the fantasy of the afterlife could be equally true, with hints of both either way such as the chess book disappearing from the realm of the living when Conductor 71 borrows it. Peter must now attend his own trial, but who can he find to be his "lawyer" when heaven has appointed the first American killed in the War of Independence as the prosecution? That's where the hands across the Atlantic business comes in, making the point about the individual not being responsible for the darker deeds of their country (was Germany in their minds?). But mostly this is a love story, with Niven and Hunter achingly romantic in their desire not to be parted by death; and that's what this film is about under the irresistable charm, the dread of losing a loved one forever. Music by Allan Gray.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 4442 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: