?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Eroticdreambattle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Tony Grist

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Arguing With Myself About A Matter Of Life And Death [Feb. 16th, 2013|10:25 am]
Tony Grist
The last time I wrote about A Matter of Life and Death I was grudging in my admiration. I said it tried too hard, that the sets were cardboardy, that  Kim Hunter was dull and Marius Goring annoying.

I still think Goring overacts. He's mis-cast, The role calls for an actor who doesn't have to work so hard to convey whimsicality and charm.

I was watching Hunter's performance carefully this time round to see if I was missing anything- and I think I was. Actually, she's rather sweet. And plucky and stalwart. One of the things I was missing Is that she and Niven (effortlessly charming) aren't really the centre of the film. Livesey is- with Raymond Massey as his worthy antagonist. Niven and Hunter command the film's opening (and God, but that sequence with Niven in the burning plane is good!) but once they've fallen in love there's nothing for them to do but be acted upon. They're like the lovers in a Midsummer Night's Dream- which (surely not by accident) is being rehearsed behind them in the NAAFI when Niven meets Livesey for the first time.

As for the sets being cardboardy- well- what do you expect? This time round I was impressed. Amazing things are achieved on a small budget. The courtroom is astonishingly big. What tricks, what lenses did they use to achieve that sense of scale?

A Matter of Life and Death is a slippery, elusive film. It's not just a love story. It's also about patriotism (English and American), the brotherhood of man, human destiny- all sorts of things. The themes slide about, criss-crossing and confusing the viewer- like fish in an aquarium. It defies genre. it takes huge risks, it puts the inconceivable on film. "Trying too hard"  is one way of putting it but I can think of others.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: trixibelle_net
2013-02-16 11:34 am (UTC)
It is my absolute 100% all time favourite film. I find it so charming. Ah, god, but I love it. It can do no wrong in my eyes :oD
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-02-16 12:47 pm (UTC)
I love Powell and Pressburger. My personal favourite is A Canterbury Tale- which resembles A Matter of Life and Death in many ways but is- if anything- even stranger, :)
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: trixibelle_net
2013-02-16 03:21 pm (UTC)
Yes I think that's probably my second favourite, from P&P. I love Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes too. With an honorable mention to 'I Know Where I'm Going!'
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-02-16 04:42 pm (UTC)
I like all of those. I'm also very fond of One of Our Aircraft is Missing.

I'm not sure they ever made a bad film. I'm told The Battle of the River Plate isn't up to much but I've liked the clips of it I've seen.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ashlyme
2013-02-16 01:44 pm (UTC)
I know of Powell and Pressburger, but can't remember what (if any) I've seen - what would you recommend as a starter?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-02-16 01:54 pm (UTC)
It's difficult to know where to begin. A Matter of Life and Death is an acknowledged classic. So too are The Red Shoes (about ballet dancers), Black Narcissus (about nuns in the Himalayas)and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp(which explains itself.) My favourite is A Canterbury Tale.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: ashlyme
2013-02-16 01:59 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the tip, Tony. I must have watched at least one of those, but quite some time back.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: sovay
2013-02-16 06:45 pm (UTC)
- what would you recommend as a starter?

A Canterbury Tale (1944) is my favorite: I think it's their weirdest and best. I discovered them with it in 2007 and wrote about the experience here (with notes). The DVD is currently living on top of derspatchel's television, or frankly I'd rewatch it right now.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: sovay
2013-02-17 02:50 am (UTC)
Livesey is- with Raymond Massey as his worthy antagonist.

Agreed. I am glad he was not cast as Colpeper, but I love Roger Livesey.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-02-17 09:50 am (UTC)
Livesey had a genius for self-transformation so maybe he'd have been a convincing Colpeper. Who knows? He's an actor who disappears into his roles.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)