By Ian MacKillop, Neil Sinyard
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Extra resources for British Cinema in the 1950's: a celebration
In From Caligari to Hitler, Kracauer’s analysis is distorted by his need to strong-arm films into becoming symbols of the zeitgeist. Durgnat’s mosaic of essays is held together by more tenable and durable principles: 1 that films don’t have to be masterpieces to be worth writing about; 2 that national cinema is intrinsically interesting as a window onto the society from which it emerges; MacKillop_02_Ch1 18 9/1/03, 9:26 am ……………… Raymond Durgnat and A Mirror for England 19 3 that auteurism could be a useful concept for analysing films made by the same director even when they did not reflect a coherent world view and a personal vision; 4 that it is possible to discern patterns across groups of films which did not necessarily share the same director, or the same production company or even the same genre.
3–4 . 3 Mirror’s treatment of Powell and Pressburger predates the collections of interviews and essays edited by Kevin Gough Yates in 1971 as Michael Powell in Collaboration with Emeric MacKillop_02_Ch1 20 9/1/03, 9:26 am ……………… Raymond Durgnat and A Mirror for England 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 21 Pressburger (British Film Institute) and by Ian Christie in 1978 (Powell, Pressburger and Others, British Film Institute), though it is preceded by Ian Johnston’s ‘A Pin to See the Peepshow’ in Motion 4 (February 1963), and Midi-Minuit Fantastique, ‘Dossier Michael Powell’ (October 1968).
It opens with a young poet (David Niven), commanding a doomed Lancaster, frantically quoting Andrew Marvell and Walter Raleigh to the young American woman checking the bombers home from a coastline control tower. Niven jumps out into the night with no parachute rather than be burned to death, misses his guardian angel in the dark, hits the sea, survives to meet and fall in love with the American. He is then tried in heaven for his life with the defence that because he has fallen in love after the official moment of his death, heavenly bureaucracy is at fault and his death revocable.
British Cinema in the 1950's: a celebration by Ian MacKillop, Neil Sinyard