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The Edge of the World (1937)

Passed  |   |  Drama, History, Romance  |  9 September 1938 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 1,206 users  
Reviews: 25 user | 28 critic

A way of life is dying on an Outer Hebridean island fishing port, but some of the inhabitants resist evacuating to the mainland.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Belle Chrystall ...
Eric Berry ...
Kitty Kirwan ...
...
The Gray Family: James
Niall MacGinnis ...
The Gray Family: Andrew, His Son (as Niall Macginnis)
Grant Sutherland ...
The Catechist
Campbell Robson ...
George Summers ...
The Skipper
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Storyline

A trio wanders the cliffs of an Outer Hebridean island and encounters a gravestone at the edge of a precipice; it reads, "Peter Manson ... gone over." One man in the trio knows the story of the gravestone and tells it to the others... It is ten years earlier, and the way of life on the island is dying; steam trawlers from the mainland threaten its survival as a fishing port. Peter Manson, one of the community's leaders, resists evacuating to the mainland, though his son Robbie is about to leave the island himself. Meanwhile, Robbie's twin sister plans to marry his best friend, Andrew Gray. Andrew and Robbie argue over evacuation and decide to settle the matter by racing to the top of a cliff. Ruth is terrified: she may lose them both. The race ends in tragedy, which tears apart the families of Manson and Gray. Times passes and Ruth reveals she is pregnant with an illegitimate child. This promises to bring the two families back together, but not before desperation hits the islanders. ... Written by sspurli

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

9 September 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A l'angle du monde  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

£20,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1940 re-issue) | (1990 NFA-restoration) | (Milestone print)

Sound Mix:

(Marconi's Visatone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Almost four hours of film was shot on the island and was edited down to just 80 minutes by Derek N. Twist. See more »

Goofs

In the sequence in which Ruth runs down and uphill then to the shore, she is first barefoot, then wearing shoes, then barefoot again. See more »

Crazy Credits

[before opening credits] The slow shadow of Death is falling on the outer isles of Scotland. [scrolls up] This is the story of one of them -- and all of them. When the Roman Fleet first sailed round Britain they saw from the Orkneys a distant island, like a blue haze across a hundred miles of sea. They called it - "ULTIMA THULE" [main title] THE EDGE OF THE WORLD See more »

Connections

Featured in Scotland on Screen (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Psalm 23
(uncredited)
Composer unknown
Words from the biblical 23rd psalm
Sung a cappella by the congregation in church
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Ultima Thule
18 February 2008 | by (Waiheke Island, New Zealand) – See all my reviews

If I had to name one of my favourite film directors, a few always come to mind, and they always include Michael Powell. He has made some of the (for me) most fascinating, thrilling, strange, intriguing and often exhilarating movies ever. He has made about 60 films in about 40 years and plenty of them would easily fit into my all time favourite top-10 films: The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Peeping Tom, Gone To Earth, A Canterbury Tale, 49th Parallel, One of Our Aircraft is Missing, A Matter of Life and Death, I Know Where I'm Going, Contraband, A Spy in Black - I can recommend them all as essential viewing if you are interested in English cinema of the 1940s and 1950s. Now the Arts Channel (in New Zealand) decided to screen one I hadn't seen before, The Edge of the World, from 1937. A tragic and powerful tale of an isolated island off the coast of Scotland (in Roman times known as Ultima Thule, the island of Foula standing in for St Kilda) affected by diminishing local resources of fuel and manpower, causing emigration, economic, social and environmental decline. It was fascinating and moving to see the stories of local families intertwined with the larger social and economic issues driving change. A constant recurrence of a cinematic theme throughout the film was gravity, which of course pulls everything down: people and sheep falling off cliffs, the pull of the wider world out there affecting the economic base of the island, fishing, livestock and crofting. The camera angles are fascinating throughout as every scene is filmed either from a upward or downward position, emphasising the will of men to fight for what they want and believe in, or being looked on by the camera acting as mother nature overwhelming the actors by the majestic cliffs, pounding seas and constant winds. You'd wish there could have been another outcome for the people involved but in the end it seems it's not possible to live at the edge of the world: you either choose to leave or die on the island.


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