The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

DVD - 2002
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Based on cartoonist David Low's parody of the old-fashioned British professional soldier, set in his ways and unable to adapt to the brutality of modern war. This story follows the career of Clive Candy, at first an idealistic, young Boer War hero, then a brigadier general, serving honorably in World War I. Finally, by World War II, he has become a bald, overweight, querulous old man, angry that his age and military experience are held in contempt, and bewildered that his lifelong code of gentlemanly conduct has become an anachronism in a world threatened by a monster like Hitler.


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Jun 09, 2019

I could not get past 10 minutes of this crap. Although billed as a drama, much of the beginning was SUPPOSED to be comedic (in a satiric way, sort of like Catch 22 - military ironies, upper echelon vs enlisted men, etc.) but instead was dreadfully unfunny and I wasn't going to sit thru 3 hours of bad jokes for what others falsely remember as a classic.

Dec 18, 2018

Felt generous, so gave it three stars. One of the three stars is for how brave and daring this movie was when first made (during WW II, London's Blitz) and how the two film-makers--one a German-born artiste--carried on in spite of (or maybe just to spite) the powers-that-were--Including Churchill himself. (Dreadfully critical of the uppah class and regimental righteousness, doncha know...)

Now, I really, really admire and respect Martin Scorsese. He's a big part of why we're all able to see this movie ("enjoy" is not a word that comes trippingly to my tongue) the way it was meant to be seen. He ponied up the money for its restoration and preservation, and used his considerable influence to enlist the aid of others to do so, too. Excellent! "Blimp" was a turning point in Marty's adolescent life, and influenced HIM later (and he shows us how, in a fascinating interview on Disc 2 of this Criterion release.) Fine and dandy.

However, I see this "revered" feature film through a different set of...experiences, I guess. Like, many movies that came much later. The ones that didn't rely on jack-hammering their points home in the most obvious ways. And didn't place actors (and camera) in fake, sound-stage indoor sets. Or--Scorsese makes a point of this!--avoids the big visual, dramatic scenes: a deadly duel, death of a spouse, combat on the Western Front. Those kinds of things. What's left, instead? Talk. Lots and lots of talk. Close-ups of the speaker, no edits, just blahblahblah. Hats off, though. The lead stars sure know how to deliver dialogue. Got lots of practice here!

Oh, this is blasphemy, I know. And this movie DOES weather the passage of time (and style) somewhat better than another Powell-Pressberger "masterpiece," The Black Narcissus. Saw that one twice. Quite liked it the first time (back in the 1960s, when I was an impressionable youth--somewhat like Marty Scorsese, I suppose.) Saw Narcissus again recently. Couldn't finish it. Finished this one, though. Barely.

An historical artifact. Yes. That's legitimate. Entertaining 21st century film fare? Not so much.

Mar 31, 2015

An absolutely delightful, wonderfully done movie featuring top drawer mid-20th Century acting talent.

Dec 05, 2014

After being humiliated by a young upstart during a training exercise, a decorated general looks back on his forty-plus years of military service and all the triumphs, losses, and regrets (including a chaste affair with his best friend’s wife) that made him the man he is today. Now regarded as an obsolete fossil by a new generation of soldier, Gen. Clive Candy at first rebels against the impertinence of youth—and the cruelties imposed by old age—until those jogged memories recall his own reckless zeal two generations ago. Using postcard sets filmed in gloriously exaggerated technicolor and graced by a quick-witted and oh-so-British script, this classic Powell & Pressburger production uses one likeable old man’s recollections to examine issues of loyalty and honour as well as the inherent follies of patriotism…no wonder then that Winston Churchill loathed the film. Unfortunately it also suffers from a few too many “jolly goods” and “hip hip hurrahs” turning what could have been a brilliant two-hour epic into an almost three-hour endurance test. A compassionate character study nonetheless whose wry critiques manage to rise above the extra padding.

AladarNyc Oct 07, 2014

Very British indeed. Entertaining and well done. I enjoyed this very much.

Jun 09, 2012

drama - this is a criterion (aka) one of those old classics and for good reason. Very professionally done, great scenary and just a good show.


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