Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
Clive Candy V.C. has fought in the Boer War and the first world war. He still believes he can win any fight with honour and maintaining "gentlemanly conduct". It takes an old German friend of his to point out how much the rules have been changed when fighting the Nazis. We follow this delightful gentleman through his life and the pursuit of his (various) ideals.
Film #10 of Project 40
”War starts at midnight!”
Few films can catch the spirit of time as good as this 1943 visually riveting and thematically intricate piece of cinema. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger portray the passing of time and the changes it brings to the moral values of society and individuals so finely and with such skill that the whole film looks like a reflection of life at its simplest form, with lost loves, regrets, friendships, adventures and misfortunes. The film looks back at Clive Candy’s life and shows his journey through time, how he has lived his life and most importantly how he has failed to catch up with the passing of time. The Life and Death…
A film made right in the middle of the Second World War with a friendly, sympathetic German and the symbolic positioning of an out of touch Colonel representing the beginning of the end of an Empire. No wonder the forces that be were none too pleased with Powell and Pressburger.
On face value it may be easier to dismiss this ridiculous looking figure at the start, a blustering old man with his round cartoonish features, whose values seen out of touch. “War starts at midnight!” he bellows at the impetuous young sergeant. Then we are forced to take a step back, asked to see this man through the years, look beyond the crimson face, ridiculous moustache and stiff upper lip.…
Since I joined Letterboxd, I've only had reason to hit the 5 star button for a viewing of a film during my lifetime here on six occasions, and three of those were for films I'd seen before. Out of all them, I probably hit it for The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp twice as quick as for any of the rest of them. What a wonderful, wonderful film.
I did a little bit of reading up about it beforehand as I really did not know anything about it all and I have to say that I was a little bit daunted by it before I started. Not because of its…
Not yet the eye-piercing target of subsequent films, the Archers’ freshly-minted emblem is here the enchanted stamp on a vast, elaborate tapestry. Britannia during the Blitz is a rubicund, slumbering walrus (Roger Livesey), outraged by the new generation’s ungallant aggressiveness; his bushy mustache hides a scar, he was also a reckless blade once, four decades and three wars flash before his eyes. In the Edwardian Belle Époque the fussy old general is a Boer War officer, young and impudent enough to turn a diplomatic affair into an affront to the German Army. The symphonic first movement climaxes with the camera craning away from a duel just as swords are crossed, then finding the protagonist and his Prussian opponent (Anton Walbrook)…
To be perfectly honest I wasn't really looking forward to watching this film, I was afraid it was going to be dated slog, what with the runtime pushing close to 3 hours, it being produced in 1943, it being uber-British, and it being an epic film with a soldier as the central character. None of those aspects intrigue me, or even slightly interest me.
With that being said...holy shit!
Powell and Pressburger went ahead and rolled every genre into one man's life, spread it out over 40 years, three different wars, and never once did I find it uninteresting. It's got romance, comedy, war, dueling, friendships, regrets, fantastic dialogue, great performances, spectacular sets, not to…
"Theo, this may sound a damn silly thing to say to you, but I never got over it."
One of the great war movies, if it can even be considered a war movie. Think a British, technicolor mixture between Citizen Kane and Patton (pre-Patton, of course). It has interesting ideas about how to stage action--if we even should--and about what too old men think of the trophy wives of their lives.
It's a masterpiece from Powell and Pressburger and should be required viewing for film lovers. The Criterion transfer is wonderful.
a touching reflection on the enduring bonds of friendship and man's quest to live a life with worth, in spite of the horrific context of a world war.
an obvious influence on the coen brothers, in terms of balance of tone and an emphasis on memorable supporting characters, and wes anderson, in production design and scene staging.
The full on propaganda scenes feel a little bit like medicine that needs to be swallowed, but every frame of this is so incredibly rich and full. It's a film that is a tragedy in almost every way, that never feels it never really has to show you bad things happening to get that tragedy across. You never see the battles or death scenes, all you see is melancholic images of two men falling further and further into the background of their own lives. It's key that the films most powerful moment is a flash of red over a Deborah Kerr's face.
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is about a lot of things, chiefly "the greatest mystery of all: how old people were once young, and how young people are in the process of becoming old" (Peter Bradshaw).
Its empathy is perhaps is greatest asset, "the movie looks past the fat, bald military man with the walrus moustache, and sees inside, to an idealist and a romantic." (Roger Ebert).
But the most remarkable aspect of this film is its portrayal of a friendship which bridges highly contentious (to say the least) national boundaries. In the midst of a deadly war, with the outcome still uncertain, the film-makers bravely took a "longer view of history" (Stephen Fry), to the extent that…
That "40 years" pan up the length of the pool. The hunting trophies filling up the walls. Those heartbreaking blank scrapbook pages. Candy, despite his personal triumphs, showing the weight of the years as he grows old. Theo, despite all he suffers, maturing with grace and dignity. Deborah Kerr (only 20!) simply stone-skipping across the decades throughout her various incarnations. And that simple yet beautiful shot of the dry leaf floating on the water as the Home Guard marches by.
& also that shot of young Candy, post-duel, wrapped up in bandages, using the two toothbrushes as an ersatz moustache. (I was enjoying the movie just fine up to that point, but I think it was with that sequence -- specifically the toothbrush-pose going into his tapping the glasses -- where I fell in love with this film.) (& I might've renewed my vows when Anton Walbrook delivered both of his 3rd-act speeches.)
uz rizik da zvucim glupo al ja nisam primjetila da glavnog lika zove blimp ili je to nesto sto smo sami morali shvatiti
film je stvarno dug
How Powell and Pressburger managed to put together this grand and opulent film in 1942 England boggles the mind. Complete review on flickersintime.com.
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