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A Matter of Life and Death
Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger • 1946 • United Kingdom
Starring David Niven, Roger Livesey, Kim Hunter
After miraculously surviving a jump from his burning plane, RAF pilot Peter Carter (David Niven) encounters the American radio operator (Kim Hunter) to whom he has just delivered his dying wishes, and, face-to-face on a tranquil English beach, the pair fall in love. When a messenger from the hereafter arrives to correct the bureaucratic error that spared his life, Peter must mount a fierce defense for his right to stay on earth—painted by production designer Alfred Junge and cinematographer Jack Cardiff as a rich Technicolor Eden—climbing a wide staircase to stand trial in a starkly beautiful, black-and-white modernist afterlife. Intended to smooth tensions between the wartime allies Britain and America, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s richly humanistic A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH traverses time and space to make a case for the transcendent value of love.