waking into a dream journal 01.16.08

this morning? gone over...
the edge of the world

director: michael powell // 1937

cinema 4 rating: 7


as much as i love the works of michael powell (and his partner in archery, emeric pressburger), i have been strangely slow about collecting their films -- thus far, only the red shoes and tales of hoffman have made it into my dvd collection -- shimmering, quiet and as beautifully craggy as the people who inhabit the island of its plotline -- a fragile glimpse at an even-then vanishing way of life: a small, remote village done in by the uncaring economics and changing morality of the modern world -- it can be seen in every frame how clearly powell fell in love with the terrain, even as it apparently became increasingly difficult to mount and maintain the production -- it may be the age of the print used on tcm (is it the same on the dvd? i will have to find out...), but much of the cinematography seems far more soft in focus than i initially expected -- it doesn't devastate with sweeping vistas, but more tightly controlled and exquisitely framed shots that show both the tender beauty of the place and the harshness that nature and the god of its inhabitants could visit upon it -- doomed to tragedy from its beginning (thanks to its prologue with director powell acting onscreen), one can't help but read the growing dread on the people of the island as it crashes against their resolute toughness -- completely engaging for its brief running time (only 74 minutes) -- i have continually surprised myself when stumbling into these tiny, nearly flawless gems from the british film industry -- raised on american fare, and really only knowing pre-'60s english films through early hitchcock and alec guinness comedies, i have much catching up to do -- almost seems a piece with another stumbling discovery of mine, the ealing comedy whisky galore!, even if this one is a good deal more dour than the latter film -- really, the only connection is secluded english islands, but they each do remind of the other...

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