Last summer I wanted to live in a world designed by Joe Wright or Douglas Sirk. But after this month's adventures in Criterion, I think I've changed my vote. I want to be a doomed redhead in one of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's films.
I'm ashamed to say that I'm new to the works of this dynamic duo, particularly since The Red Shoes has been gaining a fervent appreciation due to its recent restoration. I don't know if it's entirely my fault though. None of their films seem to get a lot of airtime or ink. Black Narcissus didn't even get an airing on TCM's Deborah Kerr day last August, and it should have, as it's one of her finest roles. (To be fair, TCM did choose a Powell and Pressburger film for Kerr Day, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimpwhich I haven't yet seen, though it's on my list. But oh, they should have done a back-to-back!) But I suspect that these two will finally get their day in the digital era, as The Red Shoes makes it clear that their films are made for DVDs and Blu-Ray. Maybe we were dealing with time traveling filmmakers. How else could they have predicted how well their Three-Strip Technicolor would look on our HD-TVs?
And oh, the color. I thought Sirk and his impeccably lit snow and stained glass was eyeball heaven. Nope. It's Powell and Pressburger, and their intense, sexy palettes which have to be seen to be believed. The Himalayas have never seen blues and greens like theirs, and sunsets are rarely such perfect combos of pink and orange. Even their whites are, well, immaculate. I don't think I've ever seen and felt the starch of a nun's habit until Black Narcissus.