(Restored by the Academy Film Archive in association with the BFI National Archive, ITV Studios Global Entertainment Ltd., and The Film Foundation. Restoration funding provided by The Material World Charitable Foundation, the Louis B. Mayer Foundation, Cinema per Roma Foundation, and The Film Foundation.)
Powell and Pressburger’s 1943 film traces the history of British Major General Clive Wynne Candy, a World War II military man with 40 years of experience, who seems nothing but an stubborn, overweight windbag to his younger officers. After a botched military exercise and scuffle with a younger lieutenant, Candy leads into the film’s narrative with an infamous bellow: “You laugh at my big belly, but you don’t know where I got it! You laugh at my mustache, but you don’t know why I grew it!”
Viewers are then transported back 40 years (via a graceful, gradual dolly-in), where an epic flashback tells how Candy got to be where he was that day. Made in 1942 at the peak of Nazi threats to Great Britain, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP is a rare look at war and soldiers that reveals a pigheaded old man as a one-time idealist and romantic.
“Like much of Powell and Pressburger's work, it is a salute to all that is paradoxical about the English; no one else has so well captured their romanticism banked down beneath emotional reticence and honour. And it is marked by an enormous generosity of spirit: in the history of the British cinema there is nothing to touch it.” —Time Out London