A Matter Of Life And Death

"Excellent"

A Matter Of Life And Death Review


When a modern viewer considers the work of Michael Powell -- whose perverse Peeping Tom is a cult classic -- a tender love story that defies death -- yes, a little like Ghost -- is not something that typically comes to mind.

Yes, sure, Powell (and frequent collaborator Emeric Pressburger) made family fare like The Red Shoes, but A Matter of Life and Death (often known by its alternate title, Stairway to Heaven) is something entirely else. To wit: The story involves a British airman named Peter (David Niven), who is on the verge of crashing his plane during his World War II mission, and spends his last moments before bailing out speaking over the radio to American wireless operator June (Kim Hunter), with whom he makes a special connection. Peter jumps before crashing, but is surprised to find himself washing up ashore, fully intact. And wouldn't you know it, he soon encounters June, and the two are immediately in love.

Here's where things get weird, as we discover the reason Peter survived is that the angels couldn't find him to take him to heaven, and once they catch up with him a day later, he decides he now has reason enough to remain on earth: June. Though Peter's time is up, his argument that he has a new purpose in life is persuasive -- persuasive enough to merit a celestial court case to fight for his right to return to earth -- and to prove that love can (literally) conquer death.

It's a bizarre story, but it's impossible to deny its power and engagement. Lord knows it sounds cheesy, complete with foppish angels (er, "heavenly conductors") debating points of logic on a mammoth stage. There's even the stairway as mentioned in the U.S. title of the film: It's not a figurative symbol but a real -- and enormous -- escalator to heaven. All you have to do is hitch a ride to get there. Funny thing though that none of this gets in the way of what is a very sweet and touching tale.

The film divides neatly into two parts: Peter and June coming together on earth, then Peter's trial in the stars, judged by a jury of angels, mainly soldiers who faught in wars spanning back centuries. Both pieces work, with Niven earnest in expressing his abrupt love for June, and even more so as he defends his life, or at least his right to it. (Albert Brooks' Defending Your Life owes a great debt to Powell and Pressburger's movie). Of course, it's the inventive script and equally adept direction that makes it all work out. The duo put so much care and love into the film that in the end we know they're right: Love really is the greatest of all virtues.



A Matter Of Life And Death

Facts and Figures

Run time: 41 mins

In Theaters: Monday 11th October 2010

Production compaines: The Rank Organisation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: George R. Busby

Starring: as Peter Carter, as Kim, as An Angel, as An English Pilot, as Bob, Bonar Colleano as An American Pilot (also as Bonor Colleano), Joan Maude as Chief Recorder, Marius Goring as Conductor 71, Roger Livesey as Doctor Reeves, Robert Atkins as The Vicar, Edwin Max as Dr. Mc.Ewen, Betty Potter as Mrs. Tucker, as The Judge, as Abraham Farlan

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

Advertisement
The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

The BFG Movie Review

The BFG Movie Review

For his adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic, Steven Spielberg reunited with screenwriter Melissa Mathison,...

Finding Dory Movie Review

Finding Dory Movie Review

It's been 13 years since the release of the Disney/Pixar hit Finding Nemo, and filmmaker...

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

Star Trek Beyond Movie Review

This is where the Star Trek franchise officially shifts from thoughtful drama into thunderous action....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.