A Matter of Life and Death

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.

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A Matter of Life and Death
  • 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 de...

Extras

  • A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH Commentary

    This commentary by film historian Ian Christie was recorded in 2009.

  • Martin Scorsese

    Filmmaker Martin Scorsese discusses his appreciation for the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger in general and A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH in particular in this interview, recorded in 2008.

  • Thelma Schoonmaker

    Academy Award-winning film editor Thelma Schoonmaker is the widow of director Michael Powell. In this interview, conducted in March 2018, she discusses Powell's personal connection to A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, as well as her own appreciation for the film.

  • The Colour Merchant

    Craig McCall spent many years making his 2010 feature documentary Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff. In the process, the filmmaker created this 1998 short, which features Cardiff discussing his cinematography on A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH.

  • Special Effects

    Visual-effects supervisor and film historian Craig Barron and visual-effects artist Harrison Ellenshaw discuss the groundbreaking use of effects in A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, as well as the work of the film's production designer, Alfred Junge.

  • The South Bank Show: Michael Powell

    This 1986 documentary, directed by David Hinton and hosted by Melvyn Bragg, features an extensive interview in which Michael Powell discusses his life in filmmaking.

  • Restoration Demonstration