A Matter Of Life And Death DVD
Classic fantasy from Powell and Pressburger in which an RAF pilot must argue for his life in a celestial trial after a mix-up sees him survive a fall from his plane. When Peter Carter (David Niven)’s plane is struck on his way back to England from a bombing mission and his parachute destroyed, he prepares himself for death. Incredibly, however, he awakes safely on the ground the next day. It turns out that the emissary sent from Heaven to carry him to his death, Conductor 71 (Marius Goring), was unable to locate him in the fog, but has now arrived to take him to the next world. Carter refuses to go, having fallen in love with the radio operator who talked to him while the plane was going down, June (Kim Hunter). A trial is convened in Heaven to see if Carter should be allowed to live on. Will the pilot be able to convince the court that his love for June is strong enough that he should be given another chance?
“Briefed by the Ministry of Information to make a film that would foster Anglo-American relations in the post-war period, innovative filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, came up with A Matter Of Life And Death–an extravagant and extraordinary fantasy in which David Niven stars as a downed pilot who must justify his continuing existence to a heavenly panel of judges, because he has made the mistake of falling in love with an American girl (Kim Hunter) when he really should have been dead. National stereotypes are lampooned as the angelic judges squabble over his fate. In a neat reversal of expectations, the Heaven sequences are black and white, while Earth is seen in techni-colour. Daring cinematography mixes monochrome and colour, incorporates time-lapse images, and even toys with background ‘time freezes’ 50 years before “The Matrix”. Roger Livesey and Raymond Massey lead the fine supporting cast, in what is one of the undoubted jewels of British cinema.
On the DVD: A Matter of Life and Death is presented in reasonably sharp 4:3 ratio with decent mono sound. Aside from English hard-of-hearing subtitles there are no extras.” – Mark Walker