Archive of films A Matter of Life and Death / A Matter of Life and Death

United Kingdom
1946, 104 min

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

This surreal romance about the strength of love and its delirium-inducing effects on the mind features an RAF pilot named Peter (David Niven) who miraculously beguiles fate, surviving a fall from a burning airplane. But the other world says Peter’s time has come, regardless that in the meantime he has fallen in love with attractive radio operator June. "The other world” agrees to hear his appeal at court....


Upon his return from a mission at the end of World War II, Peter Carter (David Niven), the commanding officer of an English bomber, is forced to jump out of a burning plane without a parachute. While the next world searches to locate him among the newly registered deceased pilots, the miraculously-saved young man manages to fall in love with an American radio operator named June (Kim Hunter). Representatives of the other world, however, don’t intend to give up without a fight, and Peter must now attempt, with the help of his friend turned defense attorney (Roger Livesey), to win a "stay of death” at a heavenly court. But in order to do so he must break the resistance of an American prosecutor famous for his hatred of the British. Focusing on Anglo-American relations, this extravagant allegorical story is a remarkable and now legendary example of Pressburger’s narrative talent spectacularly developed by Powell’s genius for unconventional and courageous direction. The imaginative romance about the strength of love and its delirium-inducing effect on the human mind is astonishing for its consummately modern visual effects from the workshop of cameraman and Technicolor specialist Jack Cardiff.

About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: Tribute to Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
Director: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Screenplay: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Dir. of Photography: Jack Cardiff
Music: Allan Gray
Editor: Reginald Mills
Producer: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Production: The Archers
Cast: David Niven, Kim Hunter, Roger Livesey, Marius Goring, Raymond Massey, Kathleen Byron


Vic Pratt

Film Institution Rep.


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