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United Kingdom 1937
Directed by
Michael Powell
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

The Edge Of The World

Nearly seven years in the making, Michael Powell's first "auteur" film displays many of the characteristics that he would develop during his long career - notably his interest in the natural world in all aspects from the libidinal to the ecological, along with its mythic dimensions, as well as on the formal front, the use of dramatic framing and composition, super-impositions and double exposures.

Although based on the real evacuation of the Hebridean island of St Kilda in the early 1930s, it was shot on the island of Foula (here called Hirta), its core subject being a small community of crofters who must face up to the end of their ancient ways in the face of modernization, all this seen through the interaction of two families.

A mixture of Flaherty-like documentary and melodramatic story-telling, and featuring some well-known faces of British cinema of the time such as John Laurie and Eric Berry, its strength is principally with the recreation of hte natural environment, with striking imagery of the mist-shrouded, sea-thrashed landscape supported by an equally striking sound design that together carry off the schematic narrative.




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