A Matter of Life and Death
GARETH HIGGINS ON A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH
Watching Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death at the Brattle Theater in Boston the other day was one of the loveliest cinematic experiences (in one of the most characterful aging movie palaces). There was a palpable sense among the diverse crowd that we were sharing an experience. Repertory cinemas have always attracted audiences more likely to respond to the widest range of films, but the cinemagoing cultures in the US and Ireland (with which I’m most familiar) tend to limit such responses to respectful silence during the credits. But perhaps the communal surprise of Barbie and Oppenheimer are having an after-effect, even in arthouses, because this screening of a nearly eighty year old film resulted in frequent joyous laughter of the kind that connects strangers to each other; and even some audible crying at the film’s intensely moving climax. (I may or may not have been counted among those most discerning of weepers.) What’s more, a decent-sized audience showed up on a Monday afternoon to see a film that, while it deserves its reputation as a classic worth watching, isn’t exactly in the center of mainstream cinephile conversation.
It should be, though, and here’s why.
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