Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.
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The Edge of the World (1937)
Review of the BFI DVD
BFI Video Publishing, Dec 2003
Region 2, PAL
I've just watched the BFI DVD of EotW which arrived today.
The film itself is a recent restoration by BFI Video who did some further restoration based on the 1990 restoration by the NFTVA. It's simply wonderful in its quality, amazingly sharp and clear. It's hard to remember that it's now over 65 years since it was made.
I'll presume you either know the film or if you don't you can read various reviews and articles about it. This review is more about the DVD itself.
The commentary by Ian Christie & Thelma Schoonmaker-Powell (as she is introduced by Ian) is very good. Quite restrained really, they only comment on the important bits. Ian gives a general background to the making of the film and the hardships they faced while Thelma makes comments about some of the technicalities of the shots, and of course the editing. Their commentary is interspersed with a few extracts from Michael's book "200,000 feet on Foula" read by Daniel Day Lewis.
The extras on the BFI edition are:
- Commentary track
Commentary by Ian Christie & Thelma Schoonmaker-Powell with a few extracts from Powell's book "200,000 feet on Foula" read by Daniel Day-Lewis.
- Return to the Edge of the World
The 1978 TV documentary where Michael returned to the island with some of the cast and crew. This is shown as a separate item rather than as the "colour bookends" to the film as was intended. They have the break in the middle where the film should be inserted.
- Making "Return to the Edge of the World"
A few stills from the making of the documentary
- St Kilda - Britain's Loneliest Isle
A 1928 travelogue about St Kilda, the island group out in the Atlantic, the evacuation of which inspired Michael when he read about it. Available with or without a recent commentary
- Michael Powell's "home movies"
Sadly not some "behind the scenes" film of the making of EotW but some "home movies" of Michael on a tour of Scotland a few years after they made EotW. Still very good though, even if if you haven't already seen them on the Criterion DVD of IKWIG. Some rare footage of Bill Paton who Michael met while they were making EotW and remained Michael's right hand man for the next 30 years or so.
- Michael Powell biography
Just a few words (plus the odd picture) about the great man
- Joe Rock biography
A few words about the man who put up the money for EotW and a few clips of him as an actor in the 1923 silent "Oliver Twisted"
- Special collections
Stills collection: Extracts from the press book and what looks like a programme
A lovely piece of work and well worth the wait
Order the DVD from:
As an odd aside, I've been recently contacted by a lady who said "Belle Chrystall was my Grandfathers cousin." and then gave enough extra information to back it up. Apparently one reason why Belle didn't go back to the island when they made the documentary was that "she nearly died the first time". Have a look at the scene when she's on the boat at the end, they didn't exactly treat her gently. As the boat is tossed around she's holding the baby in one arm and trying to hold herself up with the other - but doesn't quite make it and is thrown to the floor quite roughly. It looks like she got a bad bang to the head out of that one.
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