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Michael Powell (Age of Consent, Stairway to Heaven) (Sous-titres français) [Import]

David Niven , Kim Hunter , Emeric Pressburger , Michael Powell    DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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A true marvel, A Matter of Life and Death is one of the best films by the storied English filmmaking team known as the Archers: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Among other felicities, this 1946 fantasy has one of the most crackling opening ten minutes of any movie you'll ever see: after a deceptively dreamy prologue, we are thrown into the conversation between an airman (David Niven) whose torched plane is about to crash in the English Channel, and an American military radio operator (Kim Hunter) operating the radio on the ground. Their touching exchange, made urgent by his imminent death, is breathtakingly visualized (you have never seen a WWII plane interior quite as vividly as this). What follows is glorious: Niven's death has been missed by an otherworldly collector (Marius Goring)--all that thick English fog, you know--and so he gets to argue his case for life before a heavenly tribunal. The heaven sequences are in pearly black-and-white, the earthly material in stunning Technicolor (the color is the cause of a particularly good in-joke). The Powell-Pressburger brief on behalf of humanity is both romantic and witty, and the wonderful cast is especially enriched by Roger Livesey (the star of Powell and Pressburger's The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp), as a doctor with a camera obscura and an enormous heart.

Age of Consent, the other film in this two-disc set, comes from a much later period in Powell's career--indeed, close to the end of it. Made on a low budget in Australia in 1969, the movie depicts a disenchanted painter (James Mason) finding renewal in the isolation of an island and the beauty of the young woman (Helen Mirren) who models for him. The salt-and-pepper authority of Mason and the nubile freshness of Mirren give pleasure, although the theme is too on-the-nose (and Jack MacGowran's comic relief too broad) for a really subtle take on Powell's part. Extras include a seven-minute Martin Scorsese comment for AMOLAD, and a commentary track on that film by Powell-Pressburger authority Ian Christie; Scorsese chimes in again for Age of Consent, as does Helen Mirren, whose memories of her first movie are specific and fond. Kent Jones contributes the commentary track, a 10-minute interview with underwater photographers Ron and Valerie Taylor includes some Mirren comments, and a 16-minute making-of documentary gives some flavor of the set, including the memories of Powell's son Kevin. --Robert Horton

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5.0 out of 5 stars Still Valid Feb. 21 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I loved it when I first saw it, and the acting by David Niven and Raymond Massey was as expected, great. I love the entire plot, the way the after life is depicted, and it does make a guy wonder. A good movie to think about, with good solid acting, and a plot that maybe predictable, but is still nice to see unfold.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent service & product Feb. 1 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Excellent sur toute la ligne. Produit de première qualité et expédié rapidement !
Exactement comme promis et selon la réputation du fournisseur.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  62 reviews
59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest unknown film maker's double bill March 2 2009
By Doug Murray - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I was introduced to Michael Powell's work by a friend who loved 'The Red Shoes'. Although I dislike musicals, that film had such visual poetry that I loved it the instant I saw it.
I have made it a point to see his other films wherever possible and 'Stairway to Heaven', seen several times on TV, was always a favorite. Oddly, it has never been available in any video format--until now.
This double feature has a pristine print of Stairway which remains a favorite and a film everyone should see.
Accompanying it is Powell's final film--'Age of Consent', which I had never before seen. It features a fine, measured performance by James Mason--and a first-time showing by Helen Mirren.
Viewing these and Powell's other films show just how good this man was. I find it amazing that one film--'Peeping Tom', derailed his career so completely.
In any case, this is a great DVD with two amazing films--and when you see them, you will seek out his other works.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A Matter of Life and Death" Aug. 8 2009
By David Chesterton - Published on Amazon.com
I think the original title, 'A Matter of Life and Death', is far more explicit than the North American, 'Stairway to Heaven'.
The first time I saw the film I was in my early teens and felt it offered a far more interesting view of an 'after-life' than the vague religious idea the church tried to depict.
In 1949 while serving with the RAF I flew on a liaison mission with the USAAF. We landed at Los Angeles and during our brief stay were entertained by Hollywood. I met David Niven at that time and we corresponded for many years -- his letters were full of comic comments on his movies.
'A Matter of Life and Death' is quite an historical film as it demonstrates the incredible amount of work that had to be put into special effects long before FX technology was developed. Michael Powell had to work with cut and paste filmwork and extensive manpower for things like his moving staircase.
Having the film on DVD means that I will probably rerun this one at least once each year.
David Chesterton
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Age of Consent Dec 25 2008
By a movie fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Age of Consent is long overdue and a delightful film to see. As with some films of that vintage set in Australia, it has an English director and stars, but the native joy of the novel by Norman Lindsay (the painter in Sirens) shines through. James Mason plays the painter who spends a season on a remote Queensland island, and finds a youngish (and solidly built) Helen Mirren to paint. Most of the film is fluff, except for a nasty turn by Mirren's mother, but Powell's light touch is perfect and you get to spend time in an astonishingly beautiful corner of Oz. Actually, watching this film feels like taking a holiday. Recommended.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fabulous Powell Double-Feature, Long Overdue! Feb. 1 2009
By Benjamin J Burgraff - Published on Amazon.com
If you are unfamiliar with the magnificent film work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, have you got a treat in store for you! Two of my favorite films, the unforgettable "A Matter of Life and Death" (known in America as "Stairway to Heaven"), and the witty, mature "Age of Consent", have been packaged together as the "Michael Powell Double Feature (Age of Consent, Stairway to Heaven)". This is a MUST-BUY DVD SET!!!

1946's "Stairway to Heaven" is as close to a perfect fantasy as you'll ever see on film, offering one of David Niven's greatest performances, as a downed airman, living, literally, on borrowed time, as he missed being snatched by death. Soon, he starts hallucinating from a brain tumor, and he stands trial in heaven (strikingly portrayed in black and white, as opposed to the rich, technicolor 'real' world), for his right to continue living. A perfect cast, including young Kim Hunter, Marius Goring, Raymond Massey, Robert Coote, and the fabulous Roger Livesey, plus a humane, witty script, combine to create one of the best films ever made!

1969's "Age of Consent", Powell's last film, while not as 'stellar' (in every sense of the word) as "Stairway", is a remarkable film in it's own right, as a bohemian Australian artist (James Mason, in one of his favorite roles), walks away from a lucrative art career in New York, and takes up a beachcomber life on an island of the Great Barrier Reef. He soon meets nubile young Helen Mirren (in her film debut), and they enter a richly productive (and platonic) relationship, as he paints unabashedly sensual nudes of her, and she renews in him a passion to create. While the comic relief of Mason's moocher acquaintance Jack McGowran is sometimes criticized as too broad, I don't think it hurts the film (the residents of the island are also portrayed as more than a bit balmy). The film's pacing is relaxed, the visuals, breathtaking, and Mason and Mirren are wonderful together! The story, incidently, is loosely based on the life of an actual Australian artist, Norman Lindsay, and would be retold in 1994's "Sirens", with Sam Neill as Lindsay.

With terrific insights by Powell fan Martin Scorcese, Helen Mirren, and Powell's son, Kevin, and great commentaries, this will be a double feature you'll treasure!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A box of surprises! Two films take you to Heaven. June 18 2010
By Wade Heaton - Published on Amazon.com
I've been begging for a DVD release of "Stairway to Heaven" for years. So I was glad to find a copy at the local library and it's "A Matter of Life and Death." the original with precious moments of Powell/Pressburger humor left intact from the TV trimmer's shears. When I opened the case and saw another disk, I had to put my glasses on and found "Age of Consent." What a find! Powell films Norman Lindsay (I've been an admirer for decades and "Sirens" was a long overdue homage) with the youngest Helen Mirren to date. And such scenery! In every sense. And Jack McGrowan, over-the-top and three-sheets-to-the-wind as only an Irishman lost and broke in Australia can be.

What a delight. AMoLaD has always been one of my favorites and the transfer is pristine, the audio crisp and delightfully audible (as compared to the older prints they'd show on old broadcast TV late shows. Even the grunts and farts(!) of the little naked shepherd boy (the funniest earth angel ever) and such garish, glorious Technicolor ("We are so starved of Technicolor, Up There...!")

And painterly expressionistic Norman Lindsay sketches of Helen Mirren. A heavenly "paradise" in black-n-white. An earthly Parardise in sensuous color and sand and saltwater on skin. Utter double heaven.
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