The Edge of the World DVD
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Directed by Michael Powell
Produced in 1937
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
Shortly before teaming up with Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell made The Edge of the World - a lovely lesson in the craft of filmmaking in general, and location filmaking in particular. Its subject is the depopulation of the Scottish Isles, and was filmed on the Shetland Isle of Foula through eighteen weeks in 1936, during which time cast and crew were marooned, prompting dramatic headlines in the dailies.
If in appearance beautifully straightforward (though the shoot was anything but), it is not without its own understated and mannerly artifice: the ghostly superimpositions of evacuating islanders, the leisurely cuts that build a composite picture of the island and its people during the sermon in the cramped church, the montage of islander’s faces during the service.
Speech is only used when necessary and the film is all the better for it - the wordless funeral and its telling interplay of looks is a case in point.
Sometimes the film moves into Man of Aran territory with shots of the faces of pipe smokers, the sheep-shearers (sheep-tuggers rather), and the oarsmen at sea in a storm, but the film always brings us back to the story and involves us with the fate of the islanders with a minimum of means. Partly this is down to fine casting – it is a treat to see Finlay Currie and John Laurie acting together.
In the end what is to be lost through evacuation of the island is brought out by something that could only come through filming on such an exacting location – and that is the real significance of figures silhouetted against the island light, their place and role underlined when Peter Manson names islanders when bidding them to the funeral. What will become of Jessie and Jean of Grisigarth, of Magnus of Quenister? The film might be a lament of a kind, though it’s anything but sentimental.
Graeme Hobbs on 21st October 2003
Author of 276 reviews
When the skipper of a tourist yacht (Niall MacGinnis), lands reluctantly on the remote shores of Hirta - the now-deserted Hebridean island of his birth - he is overwhelmed by memories from a time before its evacuation, in which the new ways of the trawler fleets are meeting the old island ways and lead to an argument between two childhood friends that they decide to settle by the ancient tradition of climbing the island's highest cliff face. Without ropes.
A powerful story of love, rivalry and survival against the harsh elemental realities of island life and an ever-encroaching modernity, The Edge of the World was the first independent production by legendary British director Michael Powell. As filming wasn't permitted on St. Kilda, it was made on the remote Shetland Isle of Foula.
Length: 74 mins
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Cat No: BFIVD589
Format: DVD Colour
Subtitles: English HoH
- Feature commentary by Ian Christie and Thelma Schoonmaker (Powell's widow)
- Michael Powell's home movies
- Return to the Edge of the World documentary (1978)
- Travelogue: St Kilda - Britain's Loneliest Isle
- Daniel Day-Lewis reads extracts from 20,000 Feet on Foula
- Biographies of Michael Powell and producer Joe Rock
- Material from Michael Powell's collection.
by Anon on 12th November 2003
...in a beautiful new print! Read on
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