Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.
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Submitted by Nicky Smith
Alan Bennett on AMOLAD
Yorkshire write Alan Bennett, writer of the famous "Talking Heads" TV monologue and much, much more.The London Review of Books for 2nd Jan 2003 contains extracts from Alan Bennet's diaries for 2002.
19 Jan., Watch a video of Michael Powell's A Matter of Life and Death (1946), the first time, I think, that I have watched it all the way through since I saw it as a child at a cinema in Guildford. Then its particular interest was that the village scenes featuring the local doctor (Roger Livesey) had been shot at Shere, a picturesque village below Newlands Corner where we'd sometimes go on walks. Livesey watches the goings-on in the village via a camera obscura, though why he does this isn't explained or the workings of the device either, which must have mystified most people at the time. The notion of eavesdropping keeps coming up in Powell's work until with Peeping Tom it virtually ended his career. Other oddities in AMOLAD [Bennett's term] are the naked goatherd playing the flute, an unlikely sight on the Norfolk sands, I would have thought, even in 1945, and a man with wild red hair (looking like Leonid Massine in The Red Shoes) who brings Livesey and David Niven tea in the country house where some amateurs are rehearsing A Midsummer Night's Dream. This house seems to be set on a series of steps which, though the film was shot in the studio, relates it to Hardwick Hall
[Nicky: Isn't this the camp in Blimp?]
[Steve: That's what Clive says when he reads the note but the note actually says Hardleigh Hall]
and also to the dream sequences that follow with a stairway to heaven. The steps, coincidentally, chime in with a poem by the recently dead Ian Hamilton printed in the LRB .
"We are on a kind of stair. The world below
Will never be regained; was never there
Perhaps. And yet is seems
We've climbed to where we are
With diligence, as if told long ago
How high the highest rung."
[He certainly knows his P&P films]
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