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Still image from A Matter of Life and Death. A pilot and his love hold each other.


A Matter of Life and Death (U)

  • 1h 44m


Coming soon


  • Duration 1h 44m

UK | Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger | David Niven, Roger Livesey, Kim Hunter

After miraculously surviving a jump from his burning plane during WWII, RAF pilot Peter Carter encounters the American radio operator to whom he has just delivered his dying wishes and the pair fall in love. However, there has been a bureaucratic error in heaven and a messenger comes to inform Peter that he was supposed to have died in the plane and must mount a fierce defence for his right to stay on Earth. In glorious technicolour shot by cinematographer Jack Cardiff and with sparkling performances from Livesey and Niven this is a glorious masterpiece that makes a case for the transcendent power of love.

Screening as part of Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds of Powell + Pressburger, a UK-wide film season supported by National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network.

The power of love here on Earth clashing with the ethereal is explored in these two films in dialogue with each other. In both A Matter of Life and Death and Wings of Desire, we encounter beings of the spiritual realm who are remote and at odds with the grubbiness of life, and both at a turning point in world history – the battles of World War II and Cold War Berlin. What have humans done to themselves and how can they be redeemed? Both films find solace in love. In this dreamy double bill, big ideas and grand vistas are gloriously depicted on the big screen.