Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s epic wartime masterpiece forensically restored and back in cinemas from Friday 18 May.
Long singled out by Martin Scorsese, Stephen Fry and Wes Anderson as a personal favourite and one of the most singular, brilliant and influential films of the 20th century, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is a masterwork beyond reproach. Part of a run of truly anarchic and idiosyncratic British wartime dramas by Powell and Pressburger (also known as The Archers) that led from the 49th Parallel (1941) to A Matter of Life and Death (1946), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is an examination of love, friendship, patriotism, war and aging like no other.
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1943 Technicolor satire details the experiences of a British officer, Clive Candy (Roger Livesey), through the trials and tribulations of his army career. During the Boer War, Candy is sent to Berlin to trap a spy. There he befriends a German Officer, Theo (Anton Walbrook), who marries Edith (Deborah Kerr), the girl Candy is in love with. During the First World War, Candy marries a girl who resembles her and helps Theo – now a POW – to get repatriated. He comes back in the Second World War as a Brigadier General and once again encounters Theo.
Based on David Low’s satirical comic strip, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is arguably the greatest of all films about what it means to be British. As Michael Powell noted ‘It’s a 100% British film but it’s photographed by a Frenchman, it’s written by a Hungarian, the musical score is by a German Jew, the director was English, the man who did the costumes was a Czech; in other words, it was the kind of film that I’ve always worked on with a mixed crew of every nationality, no frontiers of any kind.’
Blimp will rise again in cinemas in the UK and across the world from Friday 18 May.
Remember “War starts at midnight!”
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp