A Matter of Life and Death
Dir. Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger. 1946, 104 mins. Archival 35mm print preserved by the Academy Film Archive. With David Niven, Kim Hunter, Robert Coote. The unparalleled British filmmaking team of Powell and Pressburger ascended to glorious heights with this marvelous feat of cinematic audacity and imagination. Niven stars as an aviator going down in flames following a World War II bombing raid over Germany; rather than die, however, he ends up in a celestial court arguing for his life with the powers that be. Slyly satirical yet earnest, A Matter of Life and Death is one of the most beloved British films ever made, filmed in Technicolor and black-and-white and making brilliant use of the towering Academy ratio of 1.37:1 to enhance the geographical and philosophical vastness of the world.