Chichester celebrates "the greatest film-makers that this country has ever produced"

Chichester Cinema at New Park offers a celebration of the British film-making partnership of Michael Powell (1905-1990) and Emeric Pressburger (1902-1988) with an illustrated talk and screenings of Black Narcissus, I Know Where I'm Going! and The Red Shoes.
Patrick Hargood (contributed pic)Patrick Hargood (contributed pic)
Patrick Hargood (contributed pic)

Cinema education officer Patrick Hargood has put the programme together: “These films have just been remastered and reissued and I was very keen to do something. In my opinion they are the greatest film-makers that this country has ever produced.

"Their body of work is the best British films we have ever had. What is so good about them is that when you're making a film it has to be a combination of factors such as casting and the story and the overall narrative and the cinematography and the editing and the music, and Powell and Pressburger are right up there as the very best for all of that.

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“Their peak period was the 1940s. They started working together in 1939. Pressburger was a Hungarian Jew and he was moving further and further west in the 1930s and came to the UK. He started working with Michael Powell in 1939 and they just went from there forming a partnership under the name The Archers (the name of their production company).

“Film-making is a collaborative exercise that involves hundreds of people and a handful of really key people, and Powell and Pressburger tended to work with the same people. I think they built up a team and I think that's how they worked so well. Pressburger would get the story together and then get together with Michael Powell. He would give him the story and the structure and they would write the screenplay together. Powell was English and Pressburger was Hungarian. Powell would give the screenplay the English touch. Powell was responsible principally for the direction but Pressburger was on set with him the whole time. But what I think needs to be emphasised about these films is that they really are absolutely sumptuous films that demand to be seen on the big screen.

“Black Narcissus is an adaptation of a novel by Rumer Godden about a group of nuns that go to set up the school and a hospital in the mountains in the Himalayas. Michael Powell described it as the most erotic film he had ever made and again it is a love triangle.

"They never went anywhere near the Himalayas. They filmed the whole thing in Pinewood with location work at Leonardslee Gardens near Horsham. They had some very lush plants there that had been imported from that area, but they created the hospital and the school in the mountains in the studio at Pinewood and it looks absolutely stunning. It is one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen.”

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Coming up: Saturday, October 21, 10.30am in the Auditorium: The Magic of Powell and Pressburger, an illustrated talk by freelance critic, curator and film historian Pamela Hutchinson.

The three films are: Black Narcissus, Saturday, Oct 21, 15:45 and Tuesday, Oct 24, 18:00. I Know Where I'm Going!, Saturday, Oct 28, 15:30, Wednesday, Nov 1, 18:00. The Red Shoes will be screened in the late autumn season, dates TBC.​