Tuesday, March 1, 2011

160. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)

Running Time: 163 minutes
Directed By: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Written By: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Main Cast: Roger Livesey, Deborah Kerr, Anton Walbrook, Ursula Jeans, John Laurie


Well I figured it'd be a good time to kick off another series dedicated to a certain director (or director's, in this case). I realize that I've been abandoning the earlier films in the book, so decided to focus in on Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, as the majority of their films were made in the 1940s, which is the earliest decade that we have left. First up, "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp", which I didn't despise, despite early thoughts that I would.

Major General Clive Wynne-Candy (Livesey) is relaxing in a Turkish bath, when he is bombarded on by a group of soldiers. Candy had called a training exercise - "War starts at Midnight" - but the soldiers decided to jump the gun and capture Candy hours earlier. As Candy argues with the officers and they tussle, we begin our journey backwards for a look into the Major General's life. We head all the way back to 1902, when Clive Candy decides, against orders, to go to Berlin to confront a man named Kaunitz for spreading propaganda and saying that the British killed women and children during the Boer War. Upon his arrival he meets with Edith Hunter (Kerr), a friend's acquaintance who alerted him to the propaganda and they go to a cafe where Candy is provoked by Kaunitz and he ends up punching him in the mouth. A duel is scheduled, in which Candy gets his lip nearly severed (which leads to the growing of his epic moustache) and his opponent gets his forehead cut. While recuperating in a nursing home, Candy befriends Schuldorff (Walbrook), his opponent in duel and allows Edith to slip away and marry Schuldorff. He doesn't realize until later that he loved Edith Hunter. From there, Candy's time during World War I and his later years, as he gets married and re-acquaints with Schuldorff, are covered.


This film was made during the height of World War II and was surely made to speak against the tactics that were being used by the Nazis. It was probably made for reasons that pertained to the current situations, but I didn't view it as such. Instead, I viewed it as a story about the life of a noble man. I guess you could say that if you give me a movie about a man, real or fictional, then I'm interested in how that man evolved. How he may have gone from hotheaded youngster, eager to defend his country from slanderous propaganda to an old man who just yearned to be needed. For me, the best part of "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" was the friendship that Major General Candy had with Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff. The story of their friendship, in my eyes was fantastic. They meet as opposition holding swords and declaring duel, not knowing one another personally, just knowing one anothers politics. They maim one another and as they recuperate they become friends. Years later, Candy finds Schuldorff and is befuddled when he is ignored by his old friend - such a sad scene. The ignorance is eventually explained, they reunite and part ways again and twenty years later, it is German native Schuldorff trying to gain access into England, as he doesn't agree with the Nazi ways of his current Germany. An incredibly touching scene, as Schuldorff chronicles his previous years, the death of his wife and the loss of his sons to the Nazi party.

This wasn't the best thing I've seen thus far and far from it, but I did enjoy parts of it. Like I said, I didn't view this as your typical war movie, but rather a movie about friendship, love and the evolution of a good man. It flowed along quite nicely too at a running time of nearly three hours and I didn't find myself staring at the clock at all. It would come with a mild recommendation from me, but in the end, it wasn't entirely my cup of tea.

RATING: 5.5/10 I know that seems a harsh rating after my praise, but this really wasn't my thing and I hope for better, more intriguing things from the duo of Powell and Pressburger. Next up: "I Know Where I'm Going".


March 1, 2011 7:19pm

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