26 user 36 critic

The Edge of the World (1937)

Passed | | Drama, History, Romance | 9 September 1938 (USA)
A way of life is dying on an Outer Hebridean island fishing port, but some of the inhabitants resist evacuating to the mainland.


Michael Powell


Michael Powell (story)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
John Laurie ... The Manson Family: Peter
Belle Chrystall ... The Manson Family: Ruth, His Daughter
Eric Berry Eric Berry ... The Manson Family: Robbie, Her Brother
Kitty Kirwan Kitty Kirwan ... The Manson Family: Jean, Their Grandmother
Finlay Currie ... The Gray Family: James
Niall MacGinnis ... The Gray Family: Andrew, His Son (as Niall Macginnis)
Grant Sutherland Grant Sutherland ... The Catechist
Campbell Robson Campbell Robson ... The Laird
George Summers George Summers ... The Skipper


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


Drama | History | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


In the scene of the race up the cliffs, the actors did their own climbing. According to director Michael Powell's book on the making of the film, Eric Berry in particular did some risky work indeed, especially in the shots of him clambering up the waterfall. See more »


The wild Golden Eagle at the beginning has the falconer's jesses (leather straps) visible. See more »


The Gray Family: Andrew, His Son: Do you think I don't care about Robbie? Do you think I'd forget that he was your twin brother and my best friend?
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 »


Referenced in Dad's Army: The Lion Has 'Phones (1969) See more »


Composer unknown
Performed by The Glasgow Orpheus Choir
Conducted by Hugh S. Roberton
See more »

User Reviews

A cinematic record of European people meeting the 20th century.
11 September 2005 | by densculSee all my reviews

This was the directors first film, and his budget was limited. Some of his "actors" were local inhabitants, and the sound is not 21st standards. Nonetheless, the film is a near historical record of the problems faced by a small group of people living on an isolated island that could no longer cope with the attraction of modern life which began to draw away its young people. Besides electricity and indoor plumbing, the 20th century offered work that attracted the young with work and modern medicine that enabled more of their children a chance to survive.

This movie shows the anguish that splits the opinion of those who realize their ancient way of life is no longer viable.

Although the island and people depicted in the movie were fictional, there was a real Shetland Island that did choose to move to the mainland. This movie was made in 1937, and a vivid picture of the transition of European people transitioning from the 19th century into the modern world.

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Release Date:

9 September 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Edge of the World See more »

Filming Locations:

Foula, Shetland, Scotland, UK See more »


Box Office


GBP20,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Joe Rock Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


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

Sound Mix:

Mono (Marconi's Visatone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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