Original at http://www.bbc.co.uk/movies/archive/powell/interview1.html

An interview with Michael Powell

The following transcription is a compilation of several interviews done for the BBC throughout the 1980s.

You are perhaps best remembered as one half of "A Powell & Pressburger Film".How important was your coming together with Emeric Pressburger, in terms of how it effected your career? Michael Powell My whole work in films would have been quite different if I hadn't met Emeric when I did. We were brought together by Alexander Korda, with whom we were both under contract to. He brought us together on a film purely as two contract people who could do a job; one to direct it and the other to re-write it. That film was The Spy In Black, which was supposed to be a vehicle for Conrad Veidt and Valerie Hobson. The problem was that the main character was not right for Conrad and this was something that worried me. But, Emeric immediately refreshed my interest by changing the main character's sex and switching the tension in the storyline by adding wonderful moments of comic relief. Remember, this was a film about a German spy! I was so impressed by how Emeric had the bravery to disregard this premise at certain unexpected moments Was there something specifically continental, European, or even Hungarian that you responded to in Emeric Pressburger? No, it was a beautiful mind that I responded to. He didn't need to be European or Hungarian, or even British, it was the mind. I had never before met a person, who guessed as he did. He not only understood what I was driving at, but guessed half of it before I had even said it. I don't think that happens very often in one's lifetime. One of your first collaborations with Pressburger was on The Life & Death Of Colonel Blimp, which in many respects was a propaganda film, aimed at helping the war effort. Would you agree? Blimp.jpg Well yes, it was a warning to the old guard, that you couldn't fight new wars with old manners. If it was players versus gentlemen, the players were going to win. But actually, when the war office read the script, they didn't like it. They said that I was saying that Britain was losing the war hand over fist because it was being run by a lot of out of date old blimps and we don't like it because it is true! The government did their best to suppress the film because of this, but I look back on it and I know that it was saying something very touching and I know that hundreds of thousands of people were thinking the same way as Emeric and myself, only during the war this was not something that was to be spoken about publicly. We did. That's the beauty of film.

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