The Masters  
The Powell & Pressburger Pages

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.

A lot of the documents have been sent to me or have come from other web sites. The name of the web site is given where known. If I have unintentionally included an image or document that is copyrighted or that I shouldn't have done then please email me and I'll remove it.

I make no money from this site, it's purely for the love of the films.

[Any comments are by me (Steve Crook) and other members of the email list]

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Message from Thelma Schoonmaker
for the Brazilian catalogue of Powell and Pressburger retrospective

     "When World War II ended, Michael Powell felt free at last to leave Britain (where he and Emeric Pressburger had made a series of wonderful films during the war (THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP, A CANTERBURY TALE, I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING! and A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH). These films were all made from original ideas (not based on novels) and were, for the most part, commercially successful and supported the war effort, so The Archers were left alone to create masterpiece after masterpiece without any particular interference from Rank Films - a period that Martin Scorsese calls the greatest period of subversive filmmaking within a major studio ever". Scorsese is very jealous of the amazing artistic freedom The Archers had at this time.

     Now, with the war over, Michael Powell wanted to burst out of Europe and find stories to make into films in other parts of the world.

     He chose Latin America as his target. He and his wife, Frankie, visited Mexico, Peru and Guatemala and Michael came back to England bursting with ideas for films. He writes in his autobiography A Life in Movies: "I yearned for exotic people against stupendous backgrounds. I had always been fascinated by the Spanish conquest of America, and particularly the conquest of Peru. I had read everything I could lay my hands on about the Maya, the Aztecs and the Incas, and it was the Incas and their mysterious empire and their total destruction by the Spanish Conquistador Pizarro, that fascinated me. I dreamed of making an intimate and savage picture about the clash between two rival superstitions, between the savage Spaniards and the civilized Indians. Above all there was a mystery of where these sophisticiated rulesr came from and the theory that there had once been constant communication by sea between South America and the islands of the South Seas."

     However, Michael Powell's dream of making a film in Latin America had to wait, because when he returned home to England another exotic idea for a film was waiting for him - BLACK NARCISSUS. But the powerful draw of Latin America always remained a force in Michael Powell's life as can be seen from the decision to produce the END OF THE RIVER in the same year as BLACK NARCISSUS. Later, of course Emeric and Michael visited Argentina and Brazil in preparation for THE BATTLE OF THE RIVER PLATE, and planned to develop stories to make there. But there were never able to get funding for them. How I wish they could have been made.

     I think both Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger would be thrilled to know that a retrospective of their work will be shown in Brazil in 2010 and 2011. My thanks to all who have made this possible.


Thelma Schoonmaker Powell

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