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A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (aka STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN)

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A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (aka STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN)

Part of Weekend Classics: Restoration Roundup.

Back from bombing Germany, RAF flyboy David Niven crashes into the Channel, despite American operator Kim Hunter’s efforts to talk him down—but he isn’t dead yet, since Collector 71 (Marius Goring), a previously beheaded French aristocrat, has missed his scheduled soul pickup due to heavy fog. Asked to make a film promoting Anglo-American goodwill, Powell & Pressburger (THE RED SHOES) soared into otherworldly whimsical fantasy, moving from the great Jack Cardiff’s Technicolor-drenched Earthly photography (more dazzling than ever in this new restoration), to a grandiose celestial trial with Raymond Massey as Niven’s snarling prosecutor, in glorious pearly hued black & white. “One is starved for Technicolor up there,” Goring remarks from Earth.

Restored in 4K by Sony Pictures Entertainment from the original Technicolor 3-strip picture negative. 4K scanning by Cineric, New York; image restoration by L'Immagine Ritrovata, Bologna; audio restoration by Deluxe Hollywood; color grading, conform, additional image restoration, DCP creation by Deluxe Culver City.

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