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A matter of life and death

Call Number



Two-DVD special edition.


English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing.


David Niven, Roger Livesey, Raymond Massey, Kim Hunter, Marius Goring, Richard Attenborough.

Publication Information

[Irvington, NY] : Criterion Collection, [2018]

Physical Description

2 videodiscs (104 minutes) : sound, color, black and white ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 folded sheet (color illustrations ; 19 cm.)


MPAA rating: PG.


After miraculously surviving a jump from his burning plane, RAF pilot Peter Carter encounters the American radio operator to whom he's just delivered his dying wishes and, face-to-face on a tranquil English beach, the pair fall in love. When a messenger from the afterlife arrives to correct the clerical error that spared his life, Peter must mount a fierce defense for his right to stay on earth--painted by production designer Alfred Junge and cinematographer Jack Cardiff as a rich Technicolor Eden--climbing a wide staircase to stand trial in a starkly beautiful, black-and-white modernist heaven. Intended to smooth tensions between the wartime allies Britain and America, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's richly humanistic A Matter of Life and Death traverses time and space to make a case for the transcendent value of love.


Title from container.

Originally produced as a motion picture in 1946.

Special features: New 4K digital restoration ; interview from 2008 with filmmaker Martin Scorsese ; audio commentary from 2009 featuring film scholar Ian Christie ; new interview with editor Thelma Schoonmaker, director Michael Powell's widow ; new short documentary on the film's special effects featuring film historian Craig Barron and the visual-effects artist Harrison Ellenshaw ; The colour merchant, a 1998 short film featuring cinematographer Jack Cardiff ; The South Bank show: "Michael Powell," a 1986 television program featuring Powell ; restoration demonstration.

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