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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Submitted by Nicky Smith
13th March 1937
The Edge of the World - this is a good film, yet it could have been something more than that. It is the story of an island off a remote part of Scotland; the story of a little people who find that progress and change are driving them inexorably from their homes. Such a theme - a man's love for the land on which he and his forefathers have lived all their lives - cannot be anything but moving if it is treated with sincerity, and Mr Michael Powell, who is both wrote and directed this film, is unmistakably sincere.
In the sea and the sky and the cliff; in the waving grass; in the little streams; and in the damp grey mists he has captured all that he could have wished of the soul of this island, so that the film presents something infinitely more beautiful that just a picture or rugged and beautiful scenery. And the acting, too, is good. Not quite so good that it can fit naturally and easily into the simple and intimate background of the island, yet moving and as unmistakably sincere. The weakness of the film is in its failure to establish Peter Manson as the central character.
He is symbolical of the tradition of these islanders, of the tradition behind all those who love their home, and though Mr John Laurie, as Peter, is stern and implacable, and even tragic, the portrait remains incomplete. This is not to say that the other residents are relatively unimportant. They are not. The love story of Andrew and Ruth Manson, the death of her brother in a race with Andrew up the cliff face, and the birth of Ruth's child after Andrew has been forced to leave her - these are in no way superfluous, for they form as much of the background to Peter's story as the old stone walls, the sheep, and the wheeling gulls. But had they remained in the background the portrait of Peter would not have been overshadowed. In the end, while the islanders are sadly putting all their possessions into the boat which is to carry them to the mainland, Peter goes up to the top of the cliff and falls to his death and the island is left desolate and alone.
Peter is of the old order, and the old order must go. The story is actually seen in retrospect through the eyes of Andrew, who visits the island 10 years later and is lost in the memories which the sight of empty ruined houses conjures up for him. The audience too, will have its memories after the film is over - an old woman sitting lonely and motionless before her cottage, staring out towards the sea; a tiny church with its wooden benches and homely congregation; a glimpse of the distant hills of Scotland through the mist; and an old and fluffy dog with slowly wagging tail.
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