The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)

dir. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. The story of British soldier Clive Candy (Colonel Blimp), already a veteran of the Boer War when we meet him, and his experiences over forty years of love and friendship, against the background of both world wars. A remarkable film, full of touching moments, witty dialogue, and some truly luxurious Technicolor cinematography. Possibly the best use of flashback in all cinema. Roger Livesey is delightful as Clive, and delivers a beautiful, sympathetic portrayal of the title character. The way Livesey modulates his voice and posture to show the aging Clive is astonishing. We’re also graced with two Powell and Pressburger regulars, Deborah Kerr playing multiple roles, and Anton Walbrook as the German mirror image of Clive, Theo. I appreciated the affectionate portrayal of the Home Guard, conjuring childhood memories of watching ‘Dad’s Army’ before the evening ABC TV News Bulletin. The confidence of Powell and Pressburger to skate past key events that may seem dramatic and important, and dwell on the more intimate and human is admirable and makes the emotional journey even more rewarding. The film was made in the middle of World War II, and perhaps inevitably resonates with a nation’s conflicting instinct towards British Chivalry in war, and a more brutal Consequentialist approach to conflict.

By Nicholas Hudson-Ellis

Co-Founder & Film Programs Manager of Bangkok Screening Room.