Essentially a rerelease of Michael Powell's 'The Edge of the World' (1937), but with color book-ends in which director and actors revisit the island of Foula forty years later and talk about their experiences.
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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
[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 »
A new version was reportedly released in 1978 ,featuring a color sequence where the director and the actors-survivors went on a pilgrimage to Foula.It was called "return to the edge of the world" .This is not the version I saw and it seems that none of the other users could see it either.It's really a pity.
Powell is my favorite English director.He's the only one who 's got a sense of mystery.His pictures are art,poetry in motion.He films the sea (a harsh mistress) and the desolate landscapes in a dazzling way.His influence on David Lean ("Ryan's daughter") is obvious.But I'm almost sure old wave French Jean Delannoy (not meant pejoratively) had this movie in mind when he made his own "Dieu a Besoin des Hommes" (a story in a remote Breton island ).And the almost documentary side of the movie predates Robert Bresson's asceticism.
Some called it melodramatic:on the contrary,Powell avoids its clichés; the unmarried mother became generally an outcast,most of all the French Marcel Pagnol films revolved around this subject.But Ruth's child is a new hope for the inhabitants.The sequence when they dance to a violin tune is the one really happy moment in the whole film.
The times are changing.The way of life their fathers used to know is coming to an end.Powell's movie gains an universal meaning :the situation he depicted happened (and is still happening) here there and everywhere.
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