During the Nazi occupation of Poland, an acting troupe becomes embroiled in a Polish soldier's efforts to track down a German spy. A melancholy poet reflects on three women he loved and lost in the past: a mechanical performing doll, a Venetian courtesan, and the consumptive daughter of a celebrated composer.
Powerful but unethical Broadway columnist J. Hunsecker coerces unscrupulous press agent Sidney Falco into breaking up his sister's romance with a jazz musician. Returning to England from a bombing run in May , pilot Peter Carter's plane is damaged and his parachute ripped to shreds. He has his crew bail out safely, but figures it is curtains for himself. He gets on the radio, and talks to June, a young American woman working for the U. Army Air Forces, and they are quite moved by each other's voices. Then he jumps, preferring this to burning up with his plane.
He wakes up in the surf. It was his time to die, but there was a mix-up in heaven. They couldn't find him in all that fog. By the time his "Conductor" catches up with him twenty hours later, Peter and June have met and fallen in love.
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- a matter of life and/or death!
This changes everything, and since it happened through no fault of his own, Peter figures that heaven owes him a second chance. Heaven agrees to a trial to decide his fate. Enchanting, romantic, innovative, and funny. The vision of this extraordinary film is almost unparalleled, exceeding better known "death romances" such as Ghost. While we know intuitively that Peter and June will find ultimate happiness at the end of that long-long stairway, the joy is in the journey. The moral of the tale, of course, is timeless: love conquers all. But the struggle to achieve that victory is played in a celestial arena of sweeping vision and gripping grandeur.
With more than suitably clad extras portraying various ages and cultures, the directors' vision of heaven remains memorable six decades later, far into the CGI era. Yet for all the cosmic scale, Powell and Pressburger knew an essential truth: the best story is told at the smallest level. The wonderfully, determinedly romantic aspect of "Stairway" is captured with ultimate simplicity: June's teardrop, preserved on a rose petal. This film, like the story and the set itself, is one for the ages. Start your free trial. Find showtimes, watch trailers, browse photos, track your Watchlist and rate your favorite movies and TV shows on your phone or tablet!
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Plot Summary. Plot Keywords. Parents Guide. External Sites. User Reviews. User Ratings. External Reviews. Metacritic Reviews. Photo Gallery. Trailers and Videos. Crazy Credits. Alternate Versions. Rate This. A British wartime aviator who cheats death must argue for his life before a celestial court. Directors: Michael Powell , Emeric Pressburger.
A Matter Of Life And Death | Definition of A Matter Of Life And Death by Merriam-Webster
Writers: Michael Powell , Emeric Pressburger. Available on Amazon. Added to Watchlist. Use the HTML below. You must be a registered user to use the IMDb rating plugin. Learn more More Like This. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp Drama Romance War. Black Narcissus The Red Shoes Drama Music Romance. I Know Where I'm Going! Drama Romance. A Canterbury Tale Comedy Drama Mystery.
Peeping Tom Drama Horror Thriller. A young man murders women, using a movie camera to film their dying expressions of terror. Brief Encounter There are two scenes set within "the other world" in which Peter is not present Trubshawe's arrival and just before the start of the trial which seem to imply the existence of the other world.
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
A minor point regarding a borrowed book which forms a third "other world" experience while Peter is still unconscious following his operation also seems to hint at the possibility of its existence; however, these could all be explained simply by Peter's mind filling in blanks during times he is unconscious. The producers took pains never to refer to "the other world" as Heaven , as they felt that was restrictive. However, in the first minutes of the film, a very young Richard Attenborough appears as a dead airman registering in the "other world" and asking: "It's heaven, isn't it?
An introductory title screen — repeated as the Foreword to the novelisation by Eric Warman  — contains an explicit statement, however: "This is the story of two worlds, the one we know and another which exists only in the mind of a young airman whose life and imagination have been violently shaped by war", but goes on to say "Any resemblance to any other world known or unknown is purely coincidental".
The architecture of the other world is noticeably modernist. It features a vast and open plan, with huge circular observation holes, beneath which the clouds of Earth can be seen. This vision was later the inspiration  for the design of St. The film's amphitheatre court scene was rendered by BT in a TV advertisement c.
Lining the escalator are large statues created by Eric Aumonier  of historically prominent men. A list of the names of the statues appears in Michael Powell's handwriting on pages 49 and 50 of the script. Many of these have in common a characteristic beyond their prominence in politics, art and philosophy: in most were believed to have had epilepsy — as did John Bunyan , who is seen in the film serving as the conductor for Dr.
The film was originally suggested by a British government department to improve relations between the Americans in the UK and the British public, following Powell and Pressburger's contributions to this sphere in A Canterbury Tale two years earlier, though neither film received any government funding nor input on plot or production.
There was a degree of public hostility towards American servicemen stationed in the UK prior to the D-Day invasion of Europe. They were viewed by some as latecomers to the war and as "overpaid, oversexed and over here" by a public that had suffered three years of bombing and rationing, with many of their own men fighting abroad. The premise of the film is a simple inversion: the British pilot gets the pretty American woman rather than the other way round, and the only national bigotry — against the British — is voiced by the first American casualty of the Revolutionary War.
Raymond Massey, portraying an American, was a Canadian national at the time the film was made, but became a naturalised American citizen afterward. David Niven was a fan of chess. Peter and June play chess while they await Dr Reeves. After the trial is won, Conductor 71 throws the book from the stairway; June finds it in his jacket pocket "to serve the 'was it a hallucination or did it really happen? He also noted, "Lots of chess in movies past and present, but I can't recall another prominent appearance of a real chess book".
Stairway To Heaven (A Matter Of Life And Death)
The Conductor tries to tempt Peter by offering him the opportunity to pit his skill against the great chess masters; and he 'borrows' Alekhine's famous book, only to return it in an extraordinary transitional shot which introduces the final sequence of Peter waking up in hospital. As a token of Peter's life, the book tumbles from one photographic world to another within the same shot". From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Michael Powell Emeric Pressburger. The Archers J.