Director Michael Powell and screenwriter Emeric Pressburger, collectively known as The Archers, were a filmmaking powerhouse for multiple decades whose influence on cinema has only grown in recent years. Perhaps somewhat ironically, given its title, the takeaway from this handsome book is how important lesser-heralded names were to the success of films like I Know Where I’m Going!, The Red Shoes – more on this one in a moment – and A Matter Of Life And Death.
Published to coincide with a major retrospective of their work from the BFI, each chapter offers a triptych: beginning with an academic essay on one element of their cinematic world, followed by rarely-seen archival stills and production designs, before concluding with a more personal reflection by a contemporary artist on the influence these films have had on their practice.
Editors Nathalie Morris and Claire Smith have assembled a first-rate list of contributors here, including Marina Warner, Tilda Swinton and Joanna Hogg. And while the risk of hagiography is real, it is skirted thanks to the difficult issues raised by author Mahesh Rao in his piecing and memorable essay on racial stereotypes in Black Narcissus. Finally, and for a more technical look at one of their key films, the BFI Classics series has also this month released a highly recommended study of The Red Shoes, written by Pamela Hutchinson.
The Cinema Of Powell & Pressburger, Nathalie Morris & Claire Smith [eds.] (British Film Institute/Bloomsbury Academic)
Price: £27/£21.60 Ebook. Info: here
words ADAM JONES
This book forms part of the BFI’s programme of film screenings, Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds Of Powell And Pressburger, at venues across UK and Ireland from Mon 16 Oct-Sun 31 Dec. The full schedule is TBC but, in Wales, will include screenings at Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff and the Dragon Theatre in Barmouth.