Masters of Cinema: Powell and Pressburger

Course Dates: 19/02/22 - 26/02/22
Time: 10:30 - 13:00
Location: Online
"There is not a British director, working in Britain, with as many worthwhile films to his credit as Michael Powell" wrote the film critic David Thomson. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's glorious run of movies through the 1940s was “the longest period of subversive film-making in a major studio, ever” argued Martin Scorsese. “I’m not a director with a personal style, I am simply cinema” claimed Michael Powell. During the 1940s Powell and Pressburger made nothing but masterpieces.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Book your place
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Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £36.00

Course Code: HF039

Sat, day, 19 Feb - 26 Feb '22

Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

How to define Powell and Pressburger? They refused to let critics label them but their work is as instantly recognisable as a Picasso abstract or the first note of a John Barry score. Every inch of frame in their Technicolor films appeared as deliberate as brush strokes. Colour cinema seemed to have been invented for Powell and Pressburger. Their films are instantly recognizable because their visual style is so distinctive.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola brought them out of obscurity in the 1970s, restored their films and revived critical interest in their work, reintroducing them to new generations of admirers worldwide. From 1943 to 1948, Powell and Pressburger made nothing but masterpieces. We’ll examine these and others, looking in particular at The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), A Canterbury Tale (1944), which Pressburger always claimed was his personal favourite, I Know Where I’m Going (1945), a direct influence on Local Hero (Bill Forsyth 1981), A Matter of Life and Death (1946) with its influential visual imagery that questioned contemporary cinematic style, and The Red Shoes (1948), celebrated for its expressive use of design, music and dance.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Discover Powell and Pressburger's key themes through the critical analysis of individual films
• Identify their place in the golden age of forties’ British cinema
• Discover their visual style and have developed a sense of their aesthetic vision, whether in their vivid mise-en-scene or distinctive cinematography.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

Suitable for all levels, this course requires only an enthusiasm to learn more about the value of cinema, to discuss films, share ideas and listen to the views of others. It provides an introduction to the subject but will also be valuable for those wishing to build on existing knowledge.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Opening lecture, viewing film extracts throughout with tutor-led discussion in the whole group and in small groups/breakout rooms. No prior preparation necessary. Digital handouts for further research.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

No other costs. Please bring pad or device for note taking.
Recommended (but not required) reading:
Christie, Ian. Powell, Pressburger and Others. London: British Film Institute, 1978.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look for film studies courses on the web under History, Writing and Culture/film studies at

John Wischmeyer

John Wischmeyer (MA in Film Theory) set up, ran and programmed his own cinema in West London and has since taught film studies at the former Gainsborough studio, the BFI and City Lit since 1999, Hitchcock’s centenary year. John has covered a wide range film topics under the banner ‘Cinema Investigates America’ and has a particular interest in and considerable knowledge of Hitchcock, Hollywood studios, American independent cinema and film noir, film technique and style.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.