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Portrays in warm-hearted detail the life and loves of one extraordinary man. We meet the imposingly rotund General Clive Wynne-Candy, a blustering old duffer who seems the epitome of stuffy, outmoded values. Traveling backwards 40 years we see a different man altogether: the young and dashing officer "Sugar" Candy. Through a series of relationships with three women and his lifelong friendship with a German officer, we see Candy's life unfold and come to understand how difficult it is for him to adapt his sense of military honor to modern notions of "total war." Written by
pacy, breathless brilliance since unparalleled on the big screen
Neither war films nor romances rate amongst my favourite film genres. Colonel Blimp is both of these and has to rate as my runaway favourite film. Made in 1943 by the irreplaceable icons of British film making Powell and Pressburger it displays a pacy breathless brilliance since unparalleled on the big screen.
The film follows the life and times of General Wynne-Candy from when he is an idealistic young officer returned on leave from the Boer War through to his retirement as an anachronistic and obdurate Major General.
The film is structured in three acts set in the aftermath of the Boer War, the first world war and the present (at the time of making the film) the height of the 2nd World War. But it is not just an examination of these conflicts. Its real power lies in Candy's pursuit of his ideal woman throughout each of these stages. All three women are played beautifully by Deborah Kerr who never surpassed the power of her performance in this film.
The other constant in the film is Anton Wallbrooks character of the sympathetic German with whom Candy builds a lifelong friendship and ultimately is probably Candy's only ever really satisfying relationship throughout his life.
For me the film operates on many complex levels. The romantic element is as affecting as anything you are likely to witness in the cinema. It achieves everything in the unrequited love department a la "the remains of the day" in a fraction of the time and as only part of the overall plot.
It deals with the moral complexities of war in a way that will have you debating the issues in your mind long after you have seen the film. This particular theme reaches its climax towards the end of the film when Candy is "retired" by the war ministry probably as a result of his outdated approach to strategy for the 2nd World War. Anton Wallbrook then delivers a setpiece speech which starkly outlines the evils of Nazism and the necessity to use any means to defeat it for the sake of freedom and humanity for coming generations.
Colonel Blimp with its pristine performances, absorbing plot, dazzling colour photography and economic flawless script easily gives Citizen Kane a good run for its money as the best film of all time.
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