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The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

Powell and Pressburger’s glorious 1943 epic is back on screens after a dazzling digital restoration overseen by Martin Scorsese and Powell’s widow, Thelma Schoonmaker. The film’s compassionate detailing of the adult life of Clive Candy (Roger Livesey), who we first meet as a bald old buffer in a Turkish bath in Mayfair during World War Two and then flash back to follow from his youth as a spy during the Boer War onwards, is as moving and surprising as ever: it’s a masterclass in deconstructing and defying a caricature. Perhaps it’s some of the film’s striking tableaux that the restoration best serves: the camera rising above the Berlin gymnasium as Candy enters into a dawn duel with Theo (Anton Walbrook), the German who will become a lifelong friend, or the snapshot of a car bouncing along the devastated fields of World War One. ‘Blimp’ is desperately sad, too, in its suggestion that time, age and loss make dinosaurs of us all. But its brilliance lies in its insistence that even dinosaurs deserve empathy and maybe even love.

Release details

Rated: U
Release date: Friday May 18 2012
Duration: 163 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Screenwriter: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Cast: Roger Livesey
Anton Walbrook
Deborah Kerr
John Laurie
Roland Culver
James McKechnie
Ursula Jeans
David Hutcheson
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