A 'Land Girl', an American GI, and a British soldier find themselves together in a small Kent town on the road to Canterbury. The town is being plagued by a mysterious "glue-man", who pours glue on the hair of girls dating soldiers after dark. The three attempt to track him down, and begin to have suspicions of the local magistrate, an eccentric figure with a strange, mystical vision of the history of England in general and Canterbury in particular.Written by
David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>
One of the best, from two of the best filmmakers, ever.
Here's another rich and wonderful piece of movie-making from the Powell/Pressburger team--as well as a lovely little time capsule of WWII Britain: the land girls, small town England, and what real patriotism is all about (unlike the sleazy variety much of America and some of Britain are currently experiencing). Made in 1944, while the war still raged, A CANTERBURY TALE is a discovery as good as anything I've seen from this amazing film-making team. Beginning with a lovely link to Chaucer's tales, it uses a marvelous quick cut between like objects that may remind you of something Stanley Kubrick is now heralded for doing (nearly a quarter-century later!), it then moves ahead to tell the story of four people whose paths cross to a purpose.
Full of quiet surprise and a lead character (Colpeper) who is enormously problematic, the film makes you look, listen, think and feel intently. (For me, cinema can't provide much more.) As the movie seems to meander along, it is actually picking up an enormous head of steam which will--at the end--let loose a blast of patriotism, pride, beauty, sound, architecture and spirituality. Regarding the latter, I do not refer to the fact that the finale is set in a cathedral--as beautiful and symbolic as this one may be. This film rises above any stricture of creed because of the honest humanism of its creators.
This is a "war film," as it appears from the view of civilians who remain at home. Among other things, it shows that, while a civilian population in wartime must give up a great deal, the rewards can be commensurate. (Concerning Iraq, this is something Americans at home have not yet begun to learn or do.) This astonishing film stands, after more than sixty years, as one of those rewards.
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