Original at http://www.bbc.co.uk/movies/archive/powell/interview2.html

An interview with Michael Powell

A Canterbury Tale is one of your most interesting films and an almost unique film in the English canon because of its extraordinary intense feeling for the English landscape and your place in it and your ancestors place in it. Were you conscious of this when you were making the film?

Powell2.jpg Yes, I think I was. And of course the man in the film is slightly dotty which I am too, so once I'd accepted Emeric's premise that this man would go to any lengths to keep the girls from going with the soldiers, I got a great deal of fun out of it. But we originally planned it as a film, not called A Canterbury Tale, which was to be about the spiritual values that we were fighting for in the war, values relating, of course to freedom. So they were spiritual values, but not necessarily religious ones? No. Spiritual values we know, religious values, we can only guess at. Iknow.jpg And again this romantic mysticism and ancestral feeling for the landscape is strongly apparent in I Know Where I'm Going. It isn't really a belief in mysticism, it's a feeling that there is more to it [the landscape] than meets the eye. That's one of the magic things about making a film. The eye is a way into the mystery. I believe, as Kipling did, that the past is always present within the present and that it will show through, if people would just allow themselves to be open to it And this relates very much to the premise behind I Know Where I'm Going? Iknow4.jpg Yes, we wanted to show how a bright young person, who knows exactly what life is all about and exactly what she wants out of it, can discover that in fact life has much more to offer. So, for me the film is the process of her coming to understand more timeless values than she had learned during her upbringing. And of course the Western Isles setting, with all its rugged mystery was the perfect catalyst, by which the main character could arrive at this understanding.

We took a lot of risks with the studio in shooting that film in Scotland, because it was a very expensive location shoot and Rank were not happy about it. But I just knew that if the story was to be told correctly and character was going to achieve this spiritual awakening, it was necessary to have a setting that had a genuine spiritual resonance about it. There aren't many places that have this magical timeless power. That was very important to me.

Much of the power of I Know Where I'm Going, also comes from the style in which it was lit. Yes, we specifically wanted the lighting to have a dramatic effect within the love story and so the cinematographer Erwin Hillier, who had met and worked with Fritz Lang, decided to use the German technique of shooting against the light and created strong contrast and it's amazing how much this brings to life the story in a much more exciting and atmospheric manner.

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