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Made In England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger ★★★★★



Released: 10th May 2024

Director: David Hinton

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger left an indelible impact on both British Cinema and on a more global scale. Over 80 years from when the pair started working together, their influence is still felt with contemporary filmmakers citing their work as inspirations. Director David Hinton now brings us the ultimate love letter to the duo and their wonderful filmography, as legendary director Martin Scorsese talks us through their collaborations and their respective solo works.

It is obvious that the films of the pair have followed Scorsese his entire life having watched The Thief of Baghdad, co-directed by Powell as a sickly child and being mesmerised by the imagery and sense of wonder and escapism. This comes in the opening five minutes and it is hard not to be swept along by his sheer love for their films and the engrossing insights into their collaborative process and personal lives. Michael Powell happened to became a close friend of Scorsese’s and was married to his long-time Editor Thelma Schoonmaker.

This is a thorough film covering all aspects of their career, from the undeniable high points like The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus and A Matter of Life and Death to lower points like the underrated Small Back Room, The Elusive Pimpernel and most notably Powell’s Peeping Tom, now regarded as a precursor to the slasher genre, that seriously dented his career and credibility.

There are some intriguing parallels drawn between Scorsese’s own films and those of the duo. From the red lighting of The Red Shoes mirroring that of Mean Streets, or the duel sequence in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and boxing sequences in Raging Bull. Scorsese is always a joy to listen to when he discusses film but it is obvious that Powell and Pressburger’s films mean something very deep to him, arguably making him the perfect person to guide us through the vast landscape of their filmography charting the 1930s to the 1960s. Scorsese’s narration is interspersed with archive interviews from the pair, showing their contrasting personalities and how the partnership evolved and created some of cinema’s most iconic films and moments.

Made In England is a fascinating documentary that excels at showing Powell and Pressburger’s continuing influence and legacy on cinema today in 130 minutes it goes surprisingly deep into a number of their films and is sure to delight fans and film historians in equal measure. It is a perfect tribute to a pair who helped define cinema as we know it today and may well introduce a new audience to both their best-loved and some of their overlooked films.

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