A Matter of Life and Death – a strange and weird celestial romance.
On 28th December 2017, I was lucky enough to watch the rerelease of A Matter of Life and Death, courtesy of Park Circus, at the QUAD theatre in Derby.
David Niven is an RAF pilot who, as the plane is going down after critical damage during WW2, has a conversation with an American service woman (Kim Hunter). Jumping out at 1000 feet, he miraculously survives and the two meet and fall in love. However, he’s then told that he was meant to die and must defend himself at a court hearing in Heaven.
The film was originally intended to celebrate the Anglo-American relationship that had been successful during WW2. However, the film not only calls this in to question be also Britain’s continued status as a world dominant power.
The film is outspoken and the cinematography is fantastic. The visuals are stunning – with heaven being shown as black and white whilst Earth is shown in colour. The modernistic architecture in heaven is fantastic and the moving staircase scene is just narcotically weird. Although perhaps the strangest scene is on the beach when Peter is told, by a naked young boy, that he is back on Earth (although this was cut from the US TV release).
So what does Powell and Pressburger say about the relationship between Peter and June? Well, although seemingly the centre story of the film, Powell and Pressburger are also suggesting that – just like Peter refuses to go to heaven, Britain should refuse to be dead or kept in similar history as the effete Frenchmen. In fact, Britain should live – side by side, shoulder to shoulder with America.
I really enjoyed both my first visit to the independent cinema (QUAD) in Derby and also to watch this classic film. Once again, thank you to Park Circus for the opportunity.
This post was written by noxford