“A Matter of Life and Death” (Criterion 2018)

Now here’s a classic which really deserved restoring. This 1946 post-WWII-war British film by the famous Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger direction-production team is about a British aviator (David Niven) who has been shot down, but in the process, has first miraculously contacted an American radio operator (Kim Stanley). When he lands, apparently still alive and intact, he happens to meet her on a beach, but then a heavenly messenger shows up to correct the after-life bureaucratic error.

Everything about this fantasy-drama is wonderful: the script, the extraordinary visuals and sets (including the most memorable staircase in movie history–the American title was Stairway to Heaven)), the innovative use of Technicolor for Earth and black and white for the after-life, the themes, and acting. Jack Cardiff’s cinematography was way ahead of its time and Powell’s direction is flawless.

There are many extras on the supplements disc that make this DVD well-worth the purchase even for an aficionado who’s likely seen this film more than once. Highly recommended for its surprising and moving scenes. A must-see romance.

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