Ill Met By Moonlight (1957)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.  

United Kingdom, 1957.  , .  Screenplay by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, based on the book by .  Cinematography by Christopher Challis.  Produced by Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by

True story of the kidnapping of Germany’s General Kreipe (played here by ) by British soldiers stationed on the Greek island of Crete.  Patrick Leigh Fermor, later to become a famed travel writer and played here by , gets the inspired idea to cut into Nazi power on the island by snatching the general and taking him all the way to Cairo, and with the collaboration of fellow British soldiers and a whole host of unified, loyal Cretans, carries the plan off beautifully (Fermor’s name is still well known on the island today).  Whether or not the film (or the book upon which it is based) captures the story accurately is something about which Fermor himself had plenty to say, so I’ll simply say that, as it stands, the film moves efficiently and has plenty of humour that does not undercut the stakes at play (which include the fact that anyone could get murdered at any moment).  This was the last full collaboration of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger on a feature film, and is a wonderful way to end one of the richest partnerships in film history, particularly as they made their name on films set during the war.  The fact that classics like The Spy In Black, One of Our Aircraft Is Missing, 49th Parallel and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp were made before the good guys won, however, makes for a very interesting contrast to this one made well after victory was acheived: Moonlight has an air of sunny confidence in even its darkest scenes, and foregoes a lot of the philosophizing of the earlier films in favour of a streamlined narrative that goes through its many points without ever stopping to contemplate the value of battle or the mettle of its viewers’ morality.  This gives it a rather-stripped down quality that doesn’t hit as deep as their better films, but it is beautifully shot and does a far better job of accurately capturing Greek culture than The Guns Of Navarone would a few years later.

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