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Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger

  • Film
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
Made in England
Photograph: Altitude

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Martin Scorsese celebrates the art and artistry of British cinema’s greatest double act

Is there anyone more committed to sharing their love of cinema than Martin Scorsese? In 1995, he gave us A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies. Four years later he explored his own heritage through Italian cinema in My Voyage to Italy. Made In England might not be directed by Scorsese, its narrator, but it’s his lifelong love of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s films that anchors David Hinton’s passionate, wide-ranging doc. 

Made in England delivers a loving, access-all-areas tour of the duo’s work that takes in behind-the-scenes pics, stills and archive interviews. And of course, those stunning clips. 

There’s plenty of context, too, on how the partnership between the Hungarian and the Englishman took shape: Pressburger as the story-crafter; Powell coming up with images and choreography. Their collaboration, one of cinema’s most fruitful, spanned decades. Made in England spans early wartime successes like 49th Parallel; the establishment of The Archers, the production banner under which they produced The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes and other masterpieces; and their failed, contentious attempt to work in Hollywood with The Elusive Pimpernel

The talents of these two artists were elevated into something close to magic

Hinton paints a sweeping portrait of a unique collaboration that elevated the talents of two artists into something close to magic. Scorsese, enamoured with these films since he was a boy, watching The Thief of Bagdad on a black-and-white 16-inch television, eventually struck up a friendship with Powell. By that point, the director was exiled from the British film industry after the disastrous reception of his serial-killer film Peeping Tom. It is to be expected, then, but still a shame, that Made in England is weighed heavily towards Powell. 

Made in England makes good use of its star narrator, who intercuts the storied Powell and Pressburger filmography with his own movies, drawing parallels between the forbidden love story in Colonel Blimp and The Age of Innocence, the violent dance of The Red Shoes and Raging Bull, and the menacing, lurking presence of Lermontov to that of Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. 

It all makes for a grand introduction to some of their unforgettable images. Even a ten second clip of Black Narcissus or The Red Shoes holds more punch than most other films. 

In UK cinemas May 10.

Written by
Anna Bogutskaya

Cast and crew

  • Director:David Hinton
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