A Matter Of Life And Death (Stairway To Heaven)


(out of 5)

Gorgeously photographed, full-colour romantic fantasy set during World War II, about a fighter pilot () who jumps out of a burning airplance without a parachute and, miraculously, lives to tell the tale. It turns out that that the person up in the celestial heavens who was responsible for accompanying him to the afterlife screwed up (a first in thousands of years) and accidentally let him live, which causes all manner of problems in the bureaucracy of paradise while letting romance run rampant on earth. Before jumping, Niven had made the acquaintance by radio of an American operator () with whom he is now madly in love.  The two of them enter a halcyon of their own that is interrupted when the foppish 18th-century aristocrat from the sky () who was supposed to escort him to his next life shows up and announces that Niven must endure a heavenly trial and cheat death once more. There’s a lot of slack in Powell and Presburger’s plotting—it’s a minor fable with very little irony that is completely opposed to the psychosexual tension of Black Narcissus, which they made the next year—but the images are unforgettable and the romantic atmosphere is dewy without ever being sappy or trite.

The Archers

United Kingdom, 1946

Directed by Michael Powell

Screenplay by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger

Cinematography by 

Produced by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s