I watched this on a 42 inch Panasonic plasma hdtv, and the first realisation is how good this movie looks despite the fact it's made in 1943. The images are crisp and sharply focused, the colors vibrant and real, the cinematography simply amazing.
The opening sequence shows a group of uniformed bikers zipping along in formation, wearing green khaki uniforms and green helmets, accompanied by ironic music. They are on a mission, and split off in different directions.
The cinematography is simply amazing, and the images fill the entire screen. Don't they know the war is not supposed to start till midnight? It's amazing how good this movie looks compared to costly high tech modern movies, often in letterbox or widescreen.
This continues throughout the movie, as you realise how exceptionally well it is shot down to the smallest detail.
The first thing to know about this movie, is that no one called Colonel Blimp is in the movie. Colonel Blimp was a popular cartoon character satirised regularly in the Evening Standard, and Officer Candy the protagonist is Blimp.
It shows his life over 40 years from 1902 just after the Boer War, of how this impetuous young officer, a gentleman with a sense of decency and fair play yet naive, who did not evolve with the times, so the movie explores his potentially lethal naivete.
We see a parallel story of Candy and a German officer Schulborg with whom he duels in Berlin, and they become friends. Deborah Kerr, 18 at the time plays 3 different roles, as the governess with whom Blimp falls in love and loses, the woman he later meets and marries, and subsequently the young woman who becomes his driver.
You'll discover many outstanding scenes in this movie, especially when Schulborg played by Anton Walbrook, makes his plea for asylum in Britain, and what he says after, it's one of the outstanding acting perfomances I have seen. The other, a montage sequence showing gunshots and wild animals appearing stuffed and mounted in Blimp's den. Quite fascinating to watch his sexual frustration being channeled by shooting wild animals.
There are several bonuses with this, one is a commentary with both Martin Scorsese, and Michael Powell. You get to see some of the very clever cartoons, and you will also discover that Winston Churchill did his best to ban this movie. You may not know that Churchill was also involved in the Boer War, so some saw parallels between him and Blimp. He thought this movie might lower the morale in the army.
Fortunately, Churchill's attempts to suppress this movie failed, as did his attempts to prevent it from being seen overseas. This led to J Arthur Rank standing behind Directors Powell and Pressburger, and taking out ads and promoting it through his Odeon movie chain. 'See the banned movie.' Churchill may have lost this battle, but he won the war.
Although perhaps he is lampooned, Roger Livesey's performance as Blimp, wins us over, and we respond to his general decency if not to his naivete about war being fought honourably according to principles.
Michael Powell, and Emeric Pressburger made Blimp, and both these names are worth remembering, because they made amazing movies together, and these films are better than most Hollywood movies. I am currently working my way through the collection.
I was introduced to them by Martin Scorsese, and Roger Ebert. Recently I saw Peeping Tom (Widescreen)
- Criterion Collection actually banned in 1960, and nearly ended Michael Powell's career, and I highly recommend checking out The Red Shoes (Criterion)
arguably their best work, and Thief of Bagdad
, a movie way ahead of its time that inspired Lucas, Scorsese and Spielberg.
As the Criterion movies are quite expensive, I watch them through an online video rental service first, before deciding which ones to buy and shopping around.
I highly recommend this movie as being well worth not only a look, but also a purchase. I hope you found this review helpful.