Michael Powell Double Feature

( 3 )

Overview

Two Michael Powell movies from very different parts of the director's 40-year career -- one of them very long-awaited in the United States -- have made their debut with this double DVD set from Columbia Tri-Star. A Matter of Life And Death (aka Stairway To Heaven) (1946) marked the end (and the peak) of a string of extraordinary wartime films made by Powell and his writer/director/producer partner Emeric Pressburger. Starring David Niven and Kim Hunter with Roger Livesey, Marius Goring, and Raymond Massey, and ...
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Overview

Two Michael Powell movies from very different parts of the director's 40-year career -- one of them very long-awaited in the United States -- have made their debut with this double DVD set from Columbia Tri-Star. A Matter of Life And Death (aka Stairway To Heaven) (1946) marked the end (and the peak) of a string of extraordinary wartime films made by Powell and his writer/director/producer partner Emeric Pressburger. Starring David Niven and Kim Hunter with Roger Livesey, Marius Goring, and Raymond Massey, and shot in a strange mix of Technicolor and monochrome, it has long been avaiable as a Region 2 disc in England, which included that participation of cinematographer Jack Cardiff. For this release, the producers have included a commentary track by Ian Christie, a longtime writer on the movies of Powell and Pressburger, and an introduction by Martin Scorsese, an admirer of both filmmakers. Christie's commentary is lively and informative, though he misses a few opportunities to delve further into certain aspects of the production, the cast and crew's work, and the stylistic unity of the movie's aesthetics. The full-screen (1.33-to-1) transfer of the movie overcomes some of the problems inherent in the source material that have marred theatrical showings over the last couple of decades, though some graininess and other deficiencies does remain in certain of the black-and-white sequences. The second film in the package, Age Of Consent (1969), came at the end of Powell's directorial career, though it was also the beginning of the screen career of co-star Helen Mirren, who contributes a very generous, moving on-camera reminiscence of the production and the participants. Also present in framing interviews are the director's son, Kevin Powell], who worked on the picture, and the husband-and-wife underwater cinematography team who photographed those sequences; and there is a commentary track by film historian Kent Jones. Age Of Consent, which is shown here in its unedited and uncensored director's cut, has gotten a stunning letterboxed transfer (1.85-to-1) that makes it almost of demonstration quality. The sound on both movies is also mastered at a very healthy volume, though the 23-year newer Age Of Consent also has an advantage in this area. And Jones's commentary is a good companion to Christie's, as he is able to focus more on Powell's post-war output in discussing various attributes of the newer movie. Each disc opens automatically to an easy-to-use two-layer menu that is simple to maneuver around.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; ; A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway To Heaven); ; Director Martin Scorsese on A Matter Of Life and Death; Commentary by Historian Ian Christie; ; Age of Content - Director Martin Scorsese on Age of Content; ; Commentary with Historian Kent Jones; Making of Age of Content; Helen Mirren: A Conversation With Cora; Down Under with Ron and Valerie Taylor
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/6/2009
  • UPC: 043396259195
  • Rating:

  • Source: Sony Pictures
  • Region Code: 1
  • Language: English
  • Time: 3:30:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 10,258

Cast & Crew

Technical Credits
Michael Powell Director
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway To Heaven)
1. Chapter 1 [2:29]
2. Chapter 2 [2:32]
3. Chapter 3 [6:03]
4. Chapter 4 [5:30]
5. Chapter 5 [5:37]
6. Chapter 6 [2:28]
7. Chapter 7 [8:51]
8. Chapter 8 [4:02]
9. Chapter 9 [2:08]
10. Chapter 10 [6:17]
11. Chapter 11 [4:17]
12. Chapter 12 [4:16]
13. Chapter 13 [2:03]
14. Chapter 14 [2:39]
15. Chapter 15 [3:21]
16. Chapter 16 [2:11]
17. Chapter 17 [1:40]
18. Chapter 18 [2:01]
19. Chapter 19 [1:31]
20. Chapter 20 [2:11]
21. Chapter 21 [4:19]
22. Chapter 22 [3:05]
23. Chapter 23 [6:07]
24. Chapter 24 [7:23]
25. Chapter 25 [2:32]
26. Chapter 26 [4:46]
27. Chapter 27 [1:59]
28. Chapter 28 [1:36]
Disc #2 -- Age Of Consent
1. Chapter 1 [3:19]
2. Chapter 2 [4:18]
3. Chapter 3 [1:38]
4. Chapter 4 [3:12]
5. Chapter 5 [2:38]
6. Chapter 6 [5:09]
7. Chapter 7 [3:27]
8. Chapter 8 [3:53]
9. Chapter 9 [5:15]
10. Chapter 10 [4:49]
11. Chapter 11 [5:06]
12. Chapter 12 [3:31]
13. Chapter 13 [4:49]
14. Chapter 14 [:44]
15. Chapter 15 [5:22]
16. Chapter 16 [1:52]
17. Chapter 17 [3:25]
18. Chapter 18 [4:57]
19. Chapter 19 [2:41]
20. Chapter 20 [5:45]
21. Chapter 21 [4:40]
22. Chapter 22 [3:42]
23. Chapter 23 [3:57]
24. Chapter 24 [4:36]
25. Chapter 25 [3:11]
26. Chapter 26 [4:40]
27. Chapter 27 [3:14]
28. Chapter 28 [2:22]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- A Matter of Life and Death (Stairway To Heaven)
   Play Movie
   Subtitles
      English
      Fran├žais
      Subtitles: Off
   Scene Selections
   Special Features
      Commentary With Historian Ian Christie: On/Off
      Martin Scorsese on "A Matter Of Life And Death"
Disc #2 -- Age Of Consent
   Play Movie
   Subtitles
      English
      Fran├žais
      Subtitles: Off
   Scene Selections
   Special Features
      Commentary with Historian Kent Jones: On/Off
      Martin Scorsese on "Age Of Consent"
      Making "Age of Consent"
      Helen Mirren: A Conversation with Cora
      Down Under with Ron and Valerie Taylor
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A wonderful romance

    I gave this movie to someone as a gift and they absolutely loved it. A good movie for true romatics.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Lines between real and unreal are never clear

    Michael Powell was an amazing artist - both with and without the presence of Emeric Pressburger. That partnership worked in mysterious ways that neither man attempted to explain. Their achievements in cinema are the stuff of legend and include a number of powerful films that critics and directors list among their favorites ... Black Narcissus, I Know Where I'm Going!, A Canterbury Tale, The Red Shoes. I'll stop there. A Matter of Life and Death (1946), part one of this double feature package from Sony Pictures, is one of Powell and Pressburger's finest efforts. It's an amazing story that has many possible interpretations. If you love the cinema, this is a necessary film to see. The look and sound of this DVD presentation - for the first time available in Region 1 - is extraordinary, given the fact that the film's age. There's a solid commentary by Ian Christie, a true authority on the works of Michael Powell, and an introduction by Martin Scorsese. A Matter of Life and Death, released in the U.S. as Stairway to Heaven, stars David Niven, Kim Hunter, and Roger Livesey.

    Age of Consent (1969), Powell's last major work, and a work that does not include the presence of Pressburger, stars James Mason (who also co-produced) as an artist struggling with his art, and Helen Mirren as his muse. Mirren gives an astonishing performance. The film is, perhaps, Powell's own view of his role as artist - an area he has explored before: The Red Shoes and Peeping Tom. While certainly not on the level of A Matter of Life and Death, Age of Consent is an enjoyable work, absolutely in step with its time. Extras here include a dry though informative commentary by Kent Jones, an introduction by Scorsese, and several fine mini-features: Making of Age of Consent; Helen Mirren: A Conversation; and Down Under with Ron and Valerie Taylor.

    Simply put - A Matter of Life and Death makes this DVD package an absolute must own.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews