The Cinema of Powell and Pressburger

British Film Institute. Oct. 2023. 206p. ed. by Nathalie Morris & Claire Smith. ISBN 9781838719173. $40. FILM
The British filmmaking duo of Michael Powell (1905–1990) and Emeric Pressburger (1902–1988), known also as the Archers (their production company’s namesake), are responsible for some of the most indelible images in cinema history. Morris (senior curator, BFI Special Collections; contributor, Ealing Studios Revisited) and Smith’s (curator of BFI Stills, Posters and Designs; contributor, Gothic: the Dark Heart of Film) beautifully produced book illustrates the contributions to film (including Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes) and culture in the 1940s and 1950s. With access to the Archers’ archives, the editors give an in-depth exploration of the themes and analysis of their stories, and they interweave that with brief testimonials from contemporary admirers. The takeaway is not simply an appreciation of two great filmmakers but a celebration of a larger team: a family of designers, cameramen, and countless creatives working together to produce works of art of its time that somehow remain timely and timeless.
VERDICT A vivid tribute and companion to the films of Powell and Pressburger for fans of cinema and creativity alike. More than a summation of their work, this book is a showcase of the creative process.
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