The Powell & Pressburger Collection (DVD Boxset)

Up to the point when I purchased this wonderful and affordable Boxset my total experience of the work of British filmmakers Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger (Together known as ‘The Archers’)was about 20 mins of 1947’s ‘Black Narcissus’ i’d spied once on BBC4. Recently I had begun to realise that having spent a full 30 years of my life in almost total ignorance of their renowned filmography was becoming a tad embarrassing. Once I’d turned over a mere £20 to Amazon I received this chunky 11 Film set running from 1941 to 1957.

My highlights are (In no particular order):

1948’s ‘The Red Shoes’ has inventive special effects that you can scarcely believe were possible for the time and Anton Wallbrook’s performance is monstrous and seductive. The cineamatography in ‘Black Narcissus’ is achingly beautiful, like a Pre-Raphaelite painted with light. ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ from 1946 is wonderfully bonkers featuring pilot David Niven arguing for his life with the celestial powers in what looks like a set from early Doctor Who. 1941 propaganda piece ’49th Parallel’ is a thought-provoking adventure only faulted by Laurence Olivier performing a French-Canadian accent so bad that he must rank along side Dick Van-Dyke. But 1943’s epic-nearly-3-hr ‘The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp’ is one of my new favourite films. It’s a sprawling meditation on life, death, love, friendship, memory and aging with the title part played perfectly (With seamless age makeup) by Roger Livesey.

The extras are very brief but the couple of mini docs are excellent. The visual and audio quality is variable ranging from murky to laboriously restored crispness. All the key films look fantastic but like me you might find yourself considering re-buying the best parts of this boxset on blu-ray. But for an introduction, this can’t be bettered.

Treat yourself to a part of British film history.

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