Monday, August 20, 2007

August 20th Log

1944, Michael Powell /Emeric Pressburger, United Kingdom
Repeat Viewing, DVD

Continuing the month of Powell/Pressburger films with one of the duos very finest... A Canterbury Tale begins with a prologue of pilgrims in 14th century Britain and then within a seamless cut (from a bird to a plane) it jumps 600s years to a parallel time of Britain- the nearing end of World War 2. So begins a strange and wonderful masterpiece from the great Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, easily among the greatest filmmakersin all of British film history. A Canterbury Tale is nearly void of plot yet it flows with a poetically fascinating narrative ease. Not a moment is dull and a rich beauty emerges from the dream-like state of the film. War is present and felt, but combat is never shown as war is rather presented almost asa meditative reflection. Breathtaking scenery, witty humor, unusual characters, and a mysterious "glue man" all exist inthis wondrous world that seems to be equally authentic and yet unlike anything else. But of course that combination is very common in Powell and Pressbuger films, and A Canterbury Tale perfectly represents the spirit of their Archers Production. With repeat viewings the smaller details (notably the humor within the dialogue) became much more apparent. But above all it is the sheer magical way Powell and Pressburger captivate the viewer into this world with a plot is that is completely non-existent. The narrative just flows with such ease and because it's not tied down to plot the wonder and even the poetic beauty begin to emerge. What a lovely performance by Sheila Sim as the 'Land Girl' Alison Smith. A Canterbury Tale is such a unique, and special film. It is one of their very best films (in the class of A Matter of Life and Death) and among the greatest of British cinema. A masterpiece!


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