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A Matter Of Life And Death (Powell And Pressburger)

Released on 31 December 2008

Featuring: David Niven & Kim Hunter

Format: DVD | Rating: Universal Suitable for All

5.0 out of 5 (6 customer reviews) | Write a review

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It's night over Europe, the night of the 2nd of May 1945. A crippled Lancaster Bomber struggles home across the English Channel, all crew dead save for the young pilot desperately scanning the radio for signs of life.

His prayers are answered. June (Hunter), a young radio operator, picks up his signal, and in the final moments of the young flyer's life, a special bond is formed.

The next morning washed up on an English beach, Squadron Leader Peter Carter (Niven) is alive, he finds June, and the two fall in love. Somehow he survived. It's a miracle, or is it? Peter Carter should have died that night; a heavenly escort missed him in the fog above the channel, and now he must face the celestial court of appeal for his right to live.
  • Interactive menus
  • In-Depth Biographies
  • Scene Access
  • Interview with Jack Cardiff

customer Reviews

 Average rating (6 reviews)

 Utterly compelling

| | See all Serin24's reviews (7)

I think this film is very special, because regardless of your position on the afterlife, you can interpret most of Peter Carter's experiences either as genuine, tangible divinity or as pure fantasy, projected by a severely damaged brain in need of urgent medical repair. Nothing in this film is ever definite.

All of that aside, the special effects are just stunning. I wasn't expecting the effects to be as good as they were. If you think '2001: A Space Odyssey' was advanced for its time, you should see this.

 A joy from start to finish

| | See all apopheniac's reviews (16)

"Just one problem, June: no parachute!"

David Niven is the archetypal stiff-upper-lip RAF pilot in this extraordinary film from Powell and Pressburger. He's alive and in love, and according to him this has got the heavenly forces rather upset, because he shouldn't be. Will he survive, and get the girl?

Everything about this film is an utter joy, and it's just as watchable today - over sixty years after it was made. It'll bring a lump to your throat and a tear to your eye, and it thoroughly deserves a place in your DVD collection.

 A Matter of Life and Death - a Powell & Pressburger classic

| | See all OldEnglandsEyes69's reviews (401)

Top 100  Reviewer Top 10 Music Reviewer

This 1946 film should appeal to all generations and almost everyone. One of my all time favourite oldies, for some reason, especially bearing in mind the brilliant special effects and sets for the time, my most vivid memory of it is a table tennis game.

David Niven is Squadron Leader Peter Carter, World War 2 pilot and sole survivor in a severely damaged and doomed Lancaster bomber returning across the English Channel from a mission in a dense fog. He's bought it too, along with his crew-mates, as he has to bail out of his plane without a brolly (a parachute to you chaps across the pond).

The Conductor, whose job it is to take the dead Carter to heaven, misses him because of the weather. Prior to bailing out Carter was speaking to American radio operator June (the beautiful Kim Hunter) who works in Operations in GB and the two have fallen in love. He's got her address and unexpectedly finds himself washed up on the shore a few hundred yards from her house (what a coincidence). As if that weren't enough, when he comes around she just happens to be cycling by on her way home from work!

The Conductor doesn't give up easily and, despite his mistake, tries to get Carter to go with him to Heaven. Carter of course doesn't want to go and wins the right to an appeal. Things go on from there, alternating between Heaven (black and white) and Earth (colour).

Other stars include Raymond Massey and Roger Livesey, the latter playing a helpful Doctor friend of June, who agrees to defend Carter in his appeal (though he doesn't believe what Carter has told him and arranges for an emergency brain operation).

Sets and special effects are phenomenal for the time and the colour is wonderful, though a tad muted and sepia-tinged, looking almost hand-tinted, unusual for the time as colour film then was usually deep, rich and bold.

Picture quality is generally pretty good and free from damage, though there are a few sparklies in the black and white sequences, whilst the monaural sound is a bit crackly in the quiet passages.

A magic and beautiful film indeed which, because of when it's set, will never date.

 A stunning film

| | See all Sanchia's reviews (7)

To many this is the pinnacle of British cinema. It has outstanding performances with lush cinematography. It is interesting to note that this film takes the reverse view to many other films with heaven being shown in crisp black and white whilst the mortal world is depicted with rich, yet slightly dreamlike colour. A heartily recommended film.

 A Must see!!!!

| | See all bigabdobrad's reviews (1)

An epic film this probably is my fravourate all time film! beutifully crafted and the story just submerges you into the film, great cast and acting a truely must buy! gd film for one of those romantic evenings or just to watch when your bored ! allways never seceis to amaze!

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ActorsDavid Niven & Kim Hunter
DirectorMichael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
CertificateUniversal Suitable for All
Year1946
ScreenFullscreen 4:3
LanguagesEnglish - Dolby (1.0) Mono
Duration1 hour and 40 minutes (approx)
RegionRegion 2 - Will only play on European Region 2 or multi-region DVD players.