Skip to content

A Matter of Life and Death

“Set in a gorgeously photographed Technicolor England and a monochrome heaven, A Matter of Life and Death took the imaginative daring of jointly credited writer-producer-directors Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger to new heights. David Niven plays a British airman who survives a plane crash and falls in love with an American radio operator (Kim Hunter), only to be summoned to the afterlife by a heavenly ‘Conductor’ (Marius Goring). But is heaven just a hallucination brought on by brain injury? Powell and Pressburger layer breathtaking visual tricks on top of this whimsical premise, such as a celebrated point-of-view shot in which our hero’s eyelid closes over the camera lens. The film also works as a sly satire on Anglo-American relations at the end of WWII. This was the first feature photographed by the great cinematographer Jack Cardiff, previously camera operator for their The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943).”—British Film Institute. New digital restoration.

Appears in: Special Screenings

Genres: Comedy, Drama

Other Films by Michael Powell

The Red Shoes

One of the masterpieces of British and musical, cinema, Powell and Pressburger’s backstage love story is a rhapsody of color, drama, and dance. Based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, the script was originally commissioned by Alexander Korda for wife Merle Oberon, but Powell bought the script back and gave unknown dancer Moira Shearer

The Tales of Hoffmann

Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation and the British Film Archive teamed up for this dazzling digital restoration of one of the masterpieces of British, and musical, cinema. In many ways an artistic companion piece to The Red Shoes, Powell and Pressburger’s adaptation of French composer Jacques Offenbach’s 1881 opera tells the tale of a melancholy poet

Other Films by Emeric Pressburger

The Red Shoes

One of the masterpieces of British and musical, cinema, Powell and Pressburger’s backstage love story is a rhapsody of color, drama, and dance. Based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, the script was originally commissioned by Alexander Korda for wife Merle Oberon, but Powell bought the script back and gave unknown dancer Moira Shearer

The Tales of Hoffmann

Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation and the British Film Archive teamed up for this dazzling digital restoration of one of the masterpieces of British, and musical, cinema. In many ways an artistic companion piece to The Red Shoes, Powell and Pressburger’s adaptation of French composer Jacques Offenbach’s 1881 opera tells the tale of a melancholy poet