Powell and Pressburger - black and white

Presented by the Melbourne Cinémathèque & ACMI

“All art is one”: The Visionary Cinema of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

Film program


Wed 8 May – Wed 22 May 2024

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“The Archers” – as Michael Powell (1905–1990) and Emeric Pressburger (1902–1988) called themselves – are amongst the greatest collaborators in the history of cinema. Their often romantic, sometimes disturbing films explore the power of vision and artistic creation, combining music, dance, painting, literature and photography with the most cinematic of imaginations. Aesthetically singular, their films melded a quintessential Englishness with a baroque, often dark European sensibility. Powell started his film career working for director Rex Ingram in the mid-1920s, before taking on the role of stills photographer for several Alfred Hitchcock productions. He learned his directorial craft in the 1930s while making over 20 “quota quickies”, before coming to critical attention with 1937’s The Edge of the World.

Pressburger was a Hungarian Jewish émigré to Britain who came to prominence as a screenwriter in Germany in the early 1930s. The two were brought together by Alexander Korda to work on the atmospheric espionage tale The Spy in Black (1939) and would go on to complete 24 collaborations over a 33-year period. It can be argued that the run of films they made from the early 1940s to the early 1950s is one of the greatest in the history of the medium taking in such cherished works as The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), A Canterbury Tale (1944), I Know Where I’m Going! (1945), Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948). This season includes three of these key films alongside three productions Powell worked on without Pressburger: The Edge of the World; the extraordinary The Thief of Bagdad (1940), co-directed by Ludwig Berger and Tim Whelan; and the new restoration of Powell’s brilliantly stylised filming of Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle (1963) for West German TV.


Cinema 1, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

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Films in this program (Wed 8 May – Wed 22 May 2024)

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About Melbourne Cinémathèque

Australia's longest-running film society, Melbourne Cinémathèque screens significant works of international cinema in the medium they were created, the way they would have originally screened.

Melbourne Cinémathèque is self-administered, volunteer-run, not-for-profit and membership-driven. 

Learn more | View the 2024 program | See membership options

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