Archive of films Canterbury Tale / A Canterbury Tale

United Kingdom
1944, 125 min

Section: Tribute to Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
Year: 2010

Inspired by Chaucer’s famed work, one of Powell and Pressburger’s most personal films follows three modern pilgrims as they undertake a journey to Canterbury Cathedral during which each receives a blessing.


British Army sergeant Peter, his American counterpart Bob, and Londoner Alison (who has come to the country as work relief to replace men mobilized for war) are the modern pilgrims of this Chaucer-inspired tale. They head for Powell’s native county of Kent with its majestic Canterbury Cathedral, and experience unforgettable moments of grace. The trio of protagonists become chance participants in the search for a mysterious being who, under the veil of night, pours glue in young women’s hair. Strange events bring the pilgrims close to the local villagers, whose lives are strongly influenced by traditions and spiritual values that they must fight for daily, not just during the war. A Canterbury Tale introduces typical examples of Powell and Pressburger’s unique style, which intermingles documentary-like realism and surreal elements with an emphasis on the mystical aspects of the countryside (with exceptional support from German cameraman Erwin Hillier). Panned by critics upon its release, the movie is now, years later, finally receiving a more just evaluation and is considered one of Powell and Pressburger’s most personal works.


Park Circus Limited
15 Woodside Crescent, G37UL, Glasgow
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 141 332 2175
Fax: +44 141 332 2133
E-mail: [email protected]

21 Stephen Street, W1T 1LN, London
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 207 255 1444
Fax: +44 207 436 7950
E-mail: [email protected]

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Tribute to Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
Director: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Screenplay: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Dir. of Photography: Erwin Hillier
Music: Allan Gray
Editor: John Seabourne
Producer: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Production: The Archers
Cast: Eric Portman, Sheila Sim, Dennis Price, John Sweet
Contact: Park Circus Limited, BFI


Vic Pratt

Film Institution Rep.


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