Probably the most assured P&P fantasia with a firmer narrative than usual to contain the metaphysical treaties and romantic whimsies - all realised by some of the most gloriously assured and apposite technical solutions imaginable. Despite a longeure eulogising egalitarianism, this is a tightly logical and witty affair on the way of things and repays repeated viewings.
'Nothing is impossible.' Powell/Pressburger's exceptional scripting and direction is evident throughout this fine unique picture. Lavishly produced and scored in both technicolour and b&w the film is a feast for the senses. Interesting that the American rhetoric expunged by Massey in the courtroom scenes isn't far removed from today's political climate.
35mm (technicolour season, Cinemateket, Oslo) Inventive and impressive in many ways when thinking about when it was made. But why is it not more than very good, not a masterpiece? I think it's something about the film language. Welles for example was much more sophisticated around the same time. I loved the table tennis sequence. ***½
When I first saw it, it was called 'Stairway to Heaven'. It's a remarkable title and so much better than 'A Matter of Life and Death'. Isn't it always a matter of life and death? Might as well call it 'Things Happen'. I like David Niven, but Marius Goring as the French fop was outstanding. "There's a lady who's sure \ All that glitters is gold \ And she's buying a stairway to heaven."
So deeply poigant and romantic and gosh darn beautiful to look at that you almost forget it's a bizarre propaganda attempt to make the British get on a bit better with their American allies! I honestly don't know if I can think of a film more charming than this. Christ, it almost makes love seem worth dying for - though far, far, far better to live for!
Inventive but full of the overripe touches that typify Powell/Pressburger. It's an enjoyable film and the three leads, particularly Livesey, are terrific but it is truly dated and not only for it's theme. I much prefer "Black Narcissus." The style is more integrated with the subject.
The cut-glass RAF accents. stiff upper lips and endlessly lecherous comments certainly reduce the timelessness of this classic - I half expected to see 3 silhouettes giving the film a good roasting during many of the early scenes - but this is such a singularly beautiful and surreal flight of wish-fulfilment fantasy that it hardly matters.
I loved the opening, you could literally feel the tension between the pilot and radio operator, unfortunately this slowly diluted as the film progressed... Stunning technicolor; beautifully shot WWII story with unusual fantasy, dreamlike elements. This film seems to be a reflection of port war trauma and in some regards it has obviously dated, some scenes, ideologies, like the court case part are a bit disturbing...
Probably the most enjoyment I have had with a film in years. The premise is great, the characters are amazing (particularly the French envoy), the cultural references add nice subtle comedic value without being chauvinistic. The astronomical shots are probably not the most exact, but who cares. Definitely one to watch.