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Monday, 11 November 2019, 6:00PM - 7:00PM
Ciné Lumière, Institut français

Powell and Pressburger: The Matter of Britain

Professor Ian Christie

World War Two set British filmmakers a challenge: to be relevant and entertaining and to inspire without patronising. Powell and Pressburger brought wit and imagination to their task, questioning what Britain stood for, warts and all. Notoriously, Churchill hated The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. But many ordinary cinema-goers were grateful for The Archers’ poetic patriotism, in this as well as in A Matter of Life and Death. Britishness redefined in the stress of war is the theme of this lecture.


Followed at 7.30pm by a screening of:

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

UK, 1943, 163 mins, Cert U, in English

Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, starring Roger Livesey, Anton Walbrook, Deborah Kerr and John Laurie

Loosely inspired by David Low's cartoon character, lampooning Britain complacent military establishment, Powell and Pressburger created an intimate national epic that ranges from the Boer War to the all-out struggle being fought as they filmed. Remarkably, they managed to do so in the teeth of Churchill's determined opposition, using Technicolor with a rare subtlety, and telling a delicate story of loves lost and found by Livesey's blundering innocent, accompanied through his life by Walbrook's wiser German counterpart, and Kerr's luminous muse. Now magnificently restored under the guidance of Thelma Schoonmaker and one of its greatest admirers, Martin Scorsese.

Separate tickets are required for the screening at a cost of £12 (concessions £10, Under 25s £5) available directly from Cine Lumiere at 17 Queensbury Place, London, SW7 2DT.

Tickets will be available to book through their website soon.


For school bookings, please contact us at enquiries@gresham.ac.uk

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Professor Christie is Visiting Professor in the History of Film and Media at Gresham College. He is a renowned British film scholar and currently Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck, University of London and a Fellow of the British Academy. 

He has researched and published on many aspects of film history, including Eisenstein and Russian cinema, Powell and Pressburger, Gilliam and Scorsese, and is a regular broadcaster on cinema. He has also worked on many exhibitions, including Spellbound (Hayward, 1996), Modernism (V&A, 2006) and Revolution: Russian Art 1917-32 (Royal Academy, 2017). His current exhibition, Animatograph!, will be at London Metropolitan Archives during September-October 2019, and his monograph Robert Paul and the Origins of British Cinema (Chicago University Press) will appear later this year. 

Professor Christie's lecture series are as follows:

2019/20 The Worlds of Powell and Pressburger

2018/19 Screening London

2017/18 Living Through a Media Revolution

All lectures by the Visiting Professor in the History of Film and Media can be accessed here.

Current Visiting Professor of Media

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