Life & Culture

Made In England review: an ode to the art of making great films

Few documentaries have more to say about filmmaking than this one about Powell and Pressburger


Movie magic: Emeric Pressburger (left) and Michael Powell

Made In England


It is perhaps too often overlooked that one half of the duo Powell and Pressburger, which to this day is considered to be the most imaginative movie-making force in the history of British cinema, was Jewish.

Surprisingly, this documentary tribute is presented and narrated by none other than Martin Scorsese who, best known for movies that are brimful of macho Mafioso, one would think has little in common with or to say about the Kent-born Michael Powell and Hungarian Emeric Pressburger. But not a bit of it.

American TV was once, Scorsese explains, far more likely to broadcast British movies than American because Hollywood studios were much less keen on selling TV networks the broadcast rights to their films than their British counterparts were.

And so it was that the young Scorsese, who as a boy was sat in front of the TV more than his peers because of childhood asthma, became immersed in such classics The Red Shoes, One of Our Aircraft is Missing and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. This last, Scorcese reports, was opposed by Churchill because it didn’t portray the British army in a flattering light. “Churchill was a great leader, but a lousy film critic,” said Pressburger.

When he moved from Berlin to Britain in 1935 to escape the Nazis he said “it was like being born at the age of 33”.

Fascinatingly, Scorsese reveals how these quintessentially British films inspired his own quintessentially American movies such as Raging Bull. Few documentaries have more to say about the art of filmmaking.

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