Author Topic: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Powell & Pressburger, 1943)  (Read 338 times)

Offline madali

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The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Powell & Pressburger, 1943)

The movie is set in 1943 (and filmed in 1943, so it�s The Present) in England. An officer of Home Guard soldiers have just received a letter instructing him that he has to engage in a practice war with another platoon. The "war" starts at midnight. The young officer decides that since this is "war", he'll play dirty, and attack before the designated hour. Because actually war is not based on set of rigid rules and laws, is it? They move and end up at a Turkish bathhouse, surrounding an old, fat major with a walrus mustache, lying on his back, eyes closed. The major is incensed at the actions of the young officer. But war..starts�at midnight!!, insists the major.

The major is based on an old British newspaper comic called "Colonel Blimp", a stereotyped upper class Army general, fat, walrus mustache, and stupid. When we first meet the major in the Turkish bathhouse, we recognize his type. To him, everything is convention and rules. We find him unlikable and arrogant, and feel a sense of joy when the young officer "arrests" him, insists that the enemy will not play by the rules, so why should they? The young officer mocks the major's stomach and mustache, and the major gets angry, lashing out, claiming that the young man does not know why he got his mustache and how he got his stomach�

Soon, we turn back the clock and we see the major as a young man. His name is Clive Candy and during the film's 160 minutes, we get to know him, Candy with his friends, Candy falling in love, Candy through wars, Candy growing old. And we slowly appreciate the old, fat, major in the beginning of the film and we start to understand him better. It's easy for us young people to feel like the world is ours and the older generation are relics of another time and when we look at them, we never REALLY get that they were young once. We logically know it, but looking at them, talking to them, dealing with them, we find it hard to really believe it.

"The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" is a great film and while watching it, there were many scenes I wanted to talk about, mainly to do with war and man's relation to it. But I'll keep this simple and instead mention that a movie that raises questions about war, being made and released, in the middle of World War 2 is a great and admirable achievement.

"Do you remember, Clive, we used to say: "Our army is fighting for our homes, our women, and our children"? Now the women are fighting beside the men. The children are trained to shoot. What's left is the "home." But what is the "home" without women and children?"

« Last Edit: April 27, 2018, 05:07:PM by fizz »
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Offline ayaa1977

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Re: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Powell & Pressburger, 1943)
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2010, 06:00:AM »
Coincidently, the hosts of my favorite film podcast Filmspotting reviewed this film in this week's episode. They too thought highly of it and sang its praise. Now I really wanna check it out.

Offline X

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Re: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Powell & Pressburger, 1943)
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2010, 06:37:AM »
Mad, I am loving the recent batch of reviews you have posted, including this one.

Great work, man; and it inspires me to find some time out of my crazy schedule to eek out a review or two...

Offline Rishi

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It’s interesting how you get introduced to the works of a filmmaker by sheer chance. Stephen “The Interruptor” Calloway put forward a question to the directors at this years THR Roundtable, asking them which film they would chose if they were on a lifeboat with a Blu-Ray player. Patty Jenkins choose a film called, “I Know Where I’m going” which I'd never heard of nor of the film maker duo, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. I ended watching it and absolutely loved it! This led to more of Powell and Pressburger, “The 49th Parallel”, “The Spy in Black” and their masterpiece, “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp”.

Blimp is an epic film about a war hero, Clive Candy,  that covers three periods in his life - as a young soldier who fought in the Boer War, a decorated officer in the First World War and finally a veteran struggling to come to terms with a changed world in the Second World War. Played magnificently by Roger Livesey, a Powell favorite, who also appeared in two other films of his, Blimp is a delightfully British film that dared to satirise the traditionalism that existed during that era and invoked the wrath of Churchill himself. Many consider this as the greatest British film ever made and it most definitely lives up to that reputation. Martin Scorsese who is a long time fan of Powell helped with the latest restoration of the film along with Thelma Schoonmaker, his regular editor who also happens to be Powell’s widow.


Offline fizz

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Wow...I never know Thelma Schoonmaker was married to Michael Powell! I've never seen any of their collaborations but have read about their influence. Time to get off my ass.
Narrative is the poison of cinema...There's nothing more beautiful than elusiveness in cinema.