121 of 127 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2002
How wonderful it is to have this unique movie beautifully restored to its original length and scene order by the British Film Institute.
Until about ten years ago, I had never seen this film. I had never rented the cut, reconfigured tape, because I didn't think I'd like the film (in any form). But the L.A. County Museum of Art had an Archers' retrospective several years ago that included the BFI restoration print. Despite many of there pictures being among my favorites, I still thought I was in for a hoary WW II propaganda film. I could walk if I didn't like it.
Was I ever wrong. I came out considering it among The Archers best works. which in my book, means one of the finest films ever.
"The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp," in the original version, is a brilliant mix of WW II propaganda, an often whimisical loving satire of the system. It is ultimately one of the most winning anti-war films ever. In a different way, as good as "Grand Illusion."
This low-key epic begins with the Boer War, when Blimp is a young (too) gung-ho officer to the time the film was made--mid-war 1943. The cast is superb. Roger Livesey gives one of the best performances imaginable. Deborah Kerr (18) at the time, gives a tour-de-force performance as the three different women Blimp falls for in the 40-year span of the film. Anton Walbrook Is so brilliant in this film. This man I am now convinced was one of the greatest actors of the 20th Century. His controversial character is a German officer Blimp befriends in the Boer War and they become life-time friends, with Blimp vouching for him being permitted to stay in England during WW II. Walbrook's scene explaining why he has left Germany is as great, if not greater than his curtain speech in "Red Shoes." Most other actors would have turned this into maudlin sentimentality. Walbrook instead gave me a giant lump in my throat. I don't lump easily.
If you've never seen the complete, uncut and untampered with film and are Archers devotee, this is the version for you.
The extras are uniformly fine. The commentary track with Martin Scorsesse and director Michael Powell, from a recording he made on first viewing the restored film, is sharp and perceptive. He sounds very old and can be hard to understand because of it, but it is worth the extra effort to hear him comment on one of his personal favorites.
There is also an excellent half-hour or so documentary, that includes Emeric Pressburger's grandson, that helps explain why and how the film was tampered with and almost never seen as a result of Prime Minister Winston Churchill trying to ban it. No luck in England. J. Arthur Rank released it in his English theatres and advertised "See The Banned Film." And it was a huge hit. The "banned" got the initial audiences in, word-of-mouth made it the movie too see. Winnie also failed in his attempts to stop exportation to other countries.
One of the most intelligent, witty,serious, breathtakingingly beautiful Technicolor films ever released.
Get this Criterion treasure now. It also includes several Colonel Blimp "original" editorial cartoons, by Blimp creator David Low. Some are timely today and could run with the names changed to suit today's political and military madness. The editorial cartoons were a revelation to me.
Archer Fans, order now and have a really complete collection of these unique gems.
The chap from England, below, is absolutey, right.
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2002
This is the best film by the best chroniclers of english life. I put this review on the American site because I feel the need to evangelise! Emeric Pressburger was an Hungarian refugee, and put much of his experience into the mouth of Theo, the sympathetic German character (in 1943! No wonder Churchill wanted it banned without seeing it). The film has three sections, set in 1902, 1918 and ww2. It shows the friendship between the title character, Clive Wynne Candy, and Theo Kretchsmar-Shuldorf. It's also a love story, with Deborah Kerr as three identical looking women. Most of all it's a requiem for a lost golden age, and a call to arms to defeat Nazism. The best set pieces are given to Theo (Anton Walbrook) a German refugee actor, emphasising that this is not a conflict between two equal and honourable countries, but between good and between evil, and this time, if good loses, there is no return match.This propaganda is 60 years old, but every time I watch it by the end I'm ready to sign up.
51 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2002
This and "A Matter of Life and Death" are Powell & Presberger's masterpieces, before they descended into the schmalz of "The Red Shoes". The tale of the essentially decent British and German gentlemen, played by Roger Livesey and Anton Walbrook respectively, rapidly becoming dinosaurs in the changing Europe between the Boer War and the Blitz, yet clinging to their values despite being kicked in the face by the brutalisation of Germany and by the consequent brutalisation of a Britain attempting to survive against barbarism. Their friendship begins from the mutual respect engendered by a duel fought reluctantly for the honour of their respective traditions at the time of the Boer War. During convalescence they vie for the hand of Deborah Kerr, turning up in the first of 3 roles. Livesey's shyness leaves Walbrook holding the field. Nearly 20 years pass until they meet again, at a POW camp in Britain. Livesey's essential naivete rides roughshod over the wartime enmity, but Walbrook's response is ambivalent, and the reunion is short-lived and bittersweet. Livesey marries Deborah Kerr's reincarnation as a nurse, because of a resemlance to his first love. A further 20 years pass. Livesey, widowed, is asked to act as sponsor for Walbrook, now exiled from Germany, also widowed and estranged from his Nazi children. Together they come to terms with their sidelining in a world of younger men with few of the old values. Deborah Kerr turns up for the third time as Livesey's driver as he moves from army officer to Home Guard organiser,refusing to be pushed out of the fight. In appearance Livesey's character assumes the appearaqnce of David Low's cartoon Colonel Blimp, but underneath he is more rounded; decent,generous to and loyal to friends, slow to denegrate his foes and totally patriotic, but finally nobody's fool. John Laurie appears in a delicious cameo as Livesey's batman/manservant, crusty but loyal. His boss may occasionally infuriate and perlex, but Laurie recognises the basic decency, as, finally, all do who come into contact with him. It may be propaganda, but it is still magnificent.
31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2003
I found "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" to be a haunting story, rich in story and superbly acted. I found the film to be a very private experience - one that you will be thinking about for a long time.
I really can't add anything to the comments made before other than to say that this is the type of film that makes Criterion a special mark. I would question many of their choices, films are available in other formats and of questionable importance (e.g. "Armageddon", "The Royal Tennanbaums" and "The Rock"). "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" probably would have been lost forever (or show up as a $...DVD on a "Bargains" rack) without the work put in by Criterion and the "legitimacy" conferred on it by being recognized by the brand.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2009
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This amazing saga--even more amazing, considering that it was filmed during World War II in England, is a tantalizing tale of a man's whole life--from youth to old age--and his loves, all of whom turn out to be played by the marvelous Deborah Kerr. The restoration is up to Criterion's high standards and the Technicolor is delicious. For fun and a look into our past, watch this movie.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2006
I first saw this film on Bravo (before they turned into a dumbed down reality network). The film, at the time, wasn't out on any home video format in its uncut version. Luckily, Bravo showed the original, 163 minute version. It was one of the most profound, humane, and intelligent films I have ever seen. Everything in this film works. Roger Livesy gives one of the greatest performances in the history of cinema. He plays Clive Candy from young man to elderly gentleman so convincingly. Anton Walbrook plays Candy's German friend is such depth and subtlety he makes you feel for all humanity. Winston Churchill attempted to ban the film in England (it was 1943), but luckily it was unsucessful. The film was a big hit in England. When it reached the states, it was cut by 70 minutes, and sometimes shown in black and white. Luckily, now the film is available only in the uncut verison. The commentary track by Michael Powell was recorded for an early laserdisc edition of this film. It's a commentary track worth listening to. Everyone nowadays does commentary (still waiting for a key grip to do one), but doesn't really have anything interesting to say. This is an exception. This is a magnficient epic film, one worth watching over and over again. It's typical of Powell and Pressburger films: visually spectaular, literate, humane, and brilliant.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2005
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is one of the finest films ever made, period. Michael Powell, a top director (49th Parallel) is at his finest as he masterfully recounts the tale of General Candy, an elderly British officer, in 1943. We see the life of a just-wonderful human being, heroic and dashing. As he evolves from a trim, swaggering youth of adventure to a stout and stoic old age, he never forgets his friends and never loses his faith in morality and justice, despite the travails of combat and personal loss.
Roger Livesy ('I Know Where I'm Going') is absolutely endearing as the lead and Deborah Kerr does a magnificent job in a triple-role! Anton Wallbrook is touching and credible as a German Officer befriended by Candy.
Lovingly restored to its original length and color magnificence, this film is touching and credible as it shows the human side of war without being preachy. There are many fine small performances and some surprising plot twists so that, despite its length, Blimp keeps viewers engaged.
By all means, a fine addition to any collection!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
They were the dynamic duo of cinema in the 1940′s. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, men who would be known for films such as "49th Parallel", "A Matter of Life and Death" and masterpieces such as "Black Narcissus", "The Red Shoes" and "The Tales of Hoffman".
Where many films by Powell and Pressburger were enjoyed by cinema fans, their 1943 film, "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" was a film that was heavily criticized for its sympathetic presentation to a German officer during World War II time.
While Powell and Pressburger had featured German characters in films such as "The Spy is Black" and "49th Parallel", the film was a source of controversy as E.W. and M.M. Robson of the Sidneyan Society called the film, "A highly elaborate, flashy, flabby and costly film, the most disgraceful production that has ever emanated from a British film studio".
While the New York Times called the film "as unmistakable a British product as Yorkshire pudding and, like the latter, it has a delectable savor all its own".
But the idea of the film was born from a scene of the film "One of Our Aircraft is Missing" in which an elderly member of the crew tells the younger one, "You don't know what it's like to be old". And when filmmaker (then editor) David Lean suggested it to Michael Powell, the premise of the conversation was worthy to be made into a film.
But like many films that were either controversial or not big at the box office, Powell and Pressburger's "The Life Death of Colonel Blimp" was a film that became highly successful during its re-release 40-years later and since the '80s, the film has since received critical acclaim and is considered as a masterpiece of British cinema.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" is featured in color (1:37:1 aspect ratio) and is presented in monaural. It's important to note that if you want the best picture and audio quality for this film, the Blu-ray release is the way to go. As for this 2013 DVD release, what people can expect in differences between this version and the older 2002 DVD release is better picture quality and more special features.
For one, the restoration for the film that was conducted in 2012 features better color and the blurring that was evident on the older release is no longer a problem. The picture quality is much clearer, much better clarity. I know the Blu-ray is the best version of this film right now, but for those who are still looking towards the DVD release, you should be happy to know that colors are robust, picture quality is literally pristine and no signs of damages, scratches, specks or debris.
Even the soundtrack has no signs of hiss, clicks or pops. The restoration of audio is fantastic!
According to the Criterion Collection, The digital master presented here was made from the Film Foundation's 2012 restoration. For the restoration, the original 35 mm three-strip Technicolor negatives were scanned at 4K resolution on an Imagica wetgate scanner at Point360 in Los Angeles.
The soundtrack was digitally restored from the original monaural optical soundtrack by Audio mechanics in Burbank, California.
"The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp - The Criterion Collection #173″ comes with the following special features:
Audio Commentary - Featuring audio commentary by director Michael Powell and filmmaker Martin Scorsese.
Introduction by Martin Scorsese - (13:50) An introduction to "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" by Martin Scorsese.
A Profile of "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" - (24:05) A short documentary on the making of "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" created for Carlton International in London in 2000. Featuring interviews with film historian Ian Christie, filmmaker and Emeric Pressburger biographer Kevin MacDonald and actor Stephen Fry.
Restoration Demonstration - (4:50) A major restoration of "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" supervised by the Academy Film Archive in Hollywood. Hosted by Martin Scorsese.
Optimism and Sheer Will - (29:12) An interview with editor Thelma Schoonmaker Powell in 2012. Powell discusses the career of her late husband, Michael Powell and his partnership with Emeric Pressburger.
Stills Gallery - Featuring the theatrical trailer and the re-release trailer for "Following". Using your remote or keyboard, you can navigate the sequence.
David Low's Colonel Blimp - Powell and Pressburger's "The Life and death of Colonel Blimp" is loosely based on the cartoon character Colonel Blimp, who was created by the political cartoonist, caricaturist and illustrator David Low. Featuring two galleries: David Low and Colonel Blimp and Cartoons. Using your remote or keyboard, you can navigate the sequence.
"The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp - The Criterion Collection #173″ comes with a 28-page booklet with the following essay "The Life and Death and Life of Colonel Blimp" by Molly Haskell.
The reason why "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" has become a part of my life, is it is a film I can reflect on every ten years and to know how the character of Clive Kandy really feels.
The last time I have watched this film was my 2002 Criterion Collection DVD and at the time, I saw the film as a Powell and Pressburger masterpiece on storytelling, cinematography and wonderful acting. Classic British cinema that was no doubt ahead of its time.
But here we are in 2013, where we have a superior version of "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" on Blu-ray and DVD, a new release with more special features and picture and audio quality that surpasses the 2002 DVD release by such a longer margin. There is no doubt that the film is the best version that is available at this moment but probably will be for quite a long time.
But I have watched this film now, five times in a matter of three days. One probably to be in awe of how magnificent the film looks after its 2012 restoration but the other times, it was more of a realization that I am now at an age where I understand Clive Kandy.
Younger people have no idea what it is to be old, which is logical. I am only 40 and I have seen the world change around me, from its use and dependance towards technology, physical changes that people go through as they grow older but seeing moments of your life which one considered a hit at the moment, becomes old school, classic rock, ancient pop culture to seeing people you once hung around with, growing older, balding and unfortunately, knowing were not fortunate to make it to 40. And I really don't know where I will be at the age of 50 or if I will be here at all.
But it's the life's regrets that Clive Kandy had lived his life. He may be known for taking action on the battlefield, but when it came to love, he was not sure what he was feeling towards the woman that was always aside him. Not knowing that the woman who was there, he let go to marry another and a regret that will affect him forever.
"The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" is a film that signifies loss, regret but also realization. Fascinating is the fact that throughout his years after he met, loved and loss Edith to his good friend Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff, he has been a man who has lived regrets but also found women who bare close semblance to the woman he loved. Clive Kandy does a magnificent job of playing the various years of Clive Kandy, as with how Deborah Kerr was able to do a wonderful job of playing three women, of different timelines, but yet look similar.
As Clive Kandy is a man of regret, Anton Walbrook's role as Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff is interesting because he was a German, a kind-hearted German who develops a long friendship with Clive Kandy but also a man who has regrets and wonders if he took his wife Edith's advice to move away from Germany when it was changing into a place where people accepted Nazi ideals and unfortunately, estranged with his sons because he did not follow those ideals.
While the film was full of humor, you have to respect Powell and Pressburger for creating a film like this during World War II. It was audacious but yet skillfuly written, to show that not all Germans were evil, during a time when Germany was despised and people thought that the country represented evil. But that was an effect during war time. A time where countries were dedicated in creating their own propaganda, these two filmmakers stood behind their film and while controversial and even drew the ire of critics and politicians, many decades after the second World War, many feel that "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" is a true masterpiece.
Of course, Powell and Pressburger had many masterpieces and each with their own charm. But "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" will be known for being the one film that was able to rile up an audience and even Winston Churchill himself.
As for the 2013 Criterion Collection DVD release, assuming you have no need for the superior Blu-ray version, the DVD still looks much better than its 2002 counterpart and features newer special features. Not only does this film look pristine, it's testament to the people who painstakingly restored this film. Better colors, better deal, just better picture and audio quality overall, this is a magnificent DVD release of the British cinema classic.
Overall, when it comes to British cinema, Powell and Pressburger films should never be passed on. And "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" is a masterpiece that should be enjoyed multiple times in one's life time and as you grow older, realizing how much you can sympathize with Clive Kandy. A film that is beautifully shot, wonderfully written and just looks and sounds fantastic with the new restoration, "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" is one release that cineaste must have in their collection. A must buy! A must own Criterion Collection release! Highly recommended!
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is one of the best films made by the Powell & Pressburger team. It is the best British film of the mid 1940's that I have seen. It is filmed in color and is stunning.
It is inspired by the British comic strip, Colonel Blimp written by David Low.
The film covers the life of a British soldier, Clive Candy, played by the great actor Roger Livesey, best known for his voice, who has been other Powell & Pressburger films. It starts around the turn of the century during the war in South Africa. When he spends time in Germany, he befriends a soldier while in a hospital. The film covers the two world wars and a reunion of th two soldiers.
The film has very fine acting and has a great cast. The DVD is loaded with very good special features.
There is audio commentary which was made in 1988 for the laserdisc version. the commentary is by co-director Michael Powell and Martin Scorsese, who is a big fan of the P&P films. Three are behind the scenes photos, a slideshow of original Colonel Blimp cartoons, and a 24 minute special about the film.
This is a must-see film!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
"The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" is a magnificent film!
Fully restored in its Technicolor glory, this movie by Powell and Pressburger (who also brought us "Black Narcissus' and "The Red Shoes") portrays forty years in the life of a British officer, Clive Wynne-Candy (Roger Livesey), who in the enthusiasm of youth rushes off to Berlin (against orders) to save the reputation of Britain, which is being maligned by a dastardly double agent. During the adventure, which lands Wynne-Candy in the midst of what promises to be an international incident, he meets a lovely governess (Deborah Kerr in one of three roles in the film). He also meets Theodore Kretschmar-Schuldorff (The magnetic Anton Walbrook--who played the sinister ballet impresario, Lermontoff, in "The Red Shoes") over sabers at dawn. After drawing blood, the two adversaries become friends for life, despite two wars.
Criterion Collection has knocked itself out to produce this beautifully restored DVD. The colors are crisp and clean. The production team has also provided English subtitles for those for whom the accents might prove difficult to understand (although the diction of the actors is splendid). The film comes with a commentary by director Michael Powell and Martin Scorsese, as well as a really informative documentary with Stephen Fry that is more than the self-promoting puffery that accompanies so many DVDs nowadays. The extras present fascinating facts about how Winston Churchill tried to ban the film from being shown in Britain and from being exported. There is also a feature depicting David Low's "Colonel Blimp Cartoons" that usually begin with the walrus-mustached Colonel pontificating: "Gad! Squiffy Harbottle [or some such notable] is right! We have to bring peace to the inhabitants of Lower Waq-Waq Land, even if we have to wipe out every last one of the blighters to get it!"
On one level, the movie is about the inability of some of the twentieth-century British military establishment to abandon the gentlemanly Public School rules of fair play in an era in which the Nazis had not only made up their own rules which they kept changing, but had also thrown away the rule book.
The performances are simply top-drawer, but for my money, Anton Walbrook runs away with the film. Walbrook is such a master of his craft that he can sit motionless in his chair and evoke powerful feelings in the viewer by only a subtle modulation of his voice. Walbrook's performance is both powerful and effortless.
And if "Colonel Blimp" seems a bit old fashioned, well it is! They simply don't make fine movies like this any more.