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 Mark Fuller
And Heaven Too
By C.A. Lejeune
From: The Observer
3 November 1946
Michael Powell's new film, A Matter of Life and Death (Empire) begins by quoting Marvell and Raleigh, and ends with a snappy excerpt from Sir Walter Scott. Between times it manages to work in a saw or two from Plato, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, and to touch lightly and familiarly on Dryden, Pope, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Milton, and Donne. We are left to understand that the hero (David Niven) may in time become as significant a writer as any of these, but his poetical works are tactfully not illustrated.
Mr. Niven is a poet-airman, who receives intimations of mortality (Wordsworth) while undergoing a delicate brain operation. It is his fancy that a celestial judge and jury are debating whether he shall live or die. Since he has bailed out of a burning bomber without a parachute, he should by rights be on the giant escalator swishing up to the Otherwhere. But as evidence of his right to live he can produce a rose containing a tear shed by his fiancee, a pretty W.A.A.C. from Boston, Mass. ("There has fall'n a splendid tear from the passion-flower at the gate" - Tennyson). The main trouble about "A Matter of Life and Death", which is original in conception, honestly acted by Mr.Niven and Kim Hunter, and photographed in parts in pleasant Technicolor, is that it leaves us in grave doubts whether it is intended to be serious or gay. When they tell me that it is "a sratospheric joke" I reply that a matter of life and death can never be a very good joke. When they insist that this bleak, aseptic Heaven, as functional as a labour exchange and as verbose as a debate on some local Housing Bill is the creation of a poet's mind, I reply politely, but firmly, that they are talking utter rot. "And then from hour to hour we rot and rot" (Shakespeare)
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