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A Matter of Life and Death

Regarded by many not only as Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's most audacious and inventive work, but also their best, A Matter Of Life And Death returns to selected cinemas and stars David Niven as plummy pilot Peter Carter whose plane is shot down during a Second World War bombing run. Having helped his crew to bail out safely, Peter discovers his parachute has been damaged and is now unusable. Peter resigns himself to his grim fate. In his final minutes, he uses the radio to make contact with the RAF and immediately falls in love with the voice of the American girl at the other end. Miraculously, thanks to a mix-up in Heaven, Peter survives and tracks down the girl, June (Kim Hunter), who is more beautiful than she sounds. They fall deeply in love, but Peter's happiness is short-lived when a messenger from Heaven tracks him down and demands he assumes his rightful place with the other spirits. Niven and Hunter are both splendid as the lovers potentially torn apart by a higher force, willing to sacrifice everything for a few more hours together. The film hasn't aged by virtue of the universal themes at its very core, and Powell and Pressburger's delicate directorial touch. A classic of its time, for all time.