NEW YORK (AP) – While Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schunmaker hid in an apartment filming “Angry Bull” – a tense process that would capture the thoughts of most directors – Scorsese told his editor to take a break. He had a movie he had to show her.
“He said,‘ You have to watch this one, ’” Schunmaker recalls.
By that time, Scorsese was already an ardent supporter of the films of Michael Powell and Emerick Pressburger, a British directorial duo known as the Archers. He considered Technicolor films such as “Red Shoes”, “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp” and “The Question of Life and Death” to be masterpieces. But he didn’t start watching their 1945 black-and-white Scottish novel “I Know Where I’m Going!” fearing it might be a “brighter picture”. Something about that title. And besides, how many masterpieces could Powell and Pressburger make?
However, Scorsese was persuaded to show it with his friend Jay Cox the night before filming in “Angry Bull”.
“I couldn’t be wrong anymore,” Scorsese reminded in an email. “It was funny, it was exciting, it was truly mystical and deeply disturbing. I saw “I know where I’m going!” many times since then – so many times, in fact, that I almost lost the account – and I’m always touched every time and always amazed, and I keep in suspense until those weird last moments. ”
On Monday, Scorsese and his nonprofit film restoration organization, the Film Foundation, will open a new virtual cinema, the Film Foundation Restoration Screening Room. Each month, for one night only, films restored by the Film Foundation will be presented in free online screenings accompanied by discussions from Scorsese and other filmmakers. The screening begins, of course, with the restoration of “I know where I’m going!”
Since it was released at the end of World War II, “I know where I’m going!” played a unique role in the hearts of movie buffs. It’s not Powell and Pressburger’s most famous film, and it doesn’t regularly hit the lists of all time. Instead, it’s a film that moviegoers typically share as a cherished gift or family treasure. It is a buried gem that he wants to tell everyone who has ever seen it. “You have to see this,” as the most common-sounding talk is about “I know where I’m going!” to start.
“At the end of the war, people suffered so much,” Schunmaker said, speaking on the phone recently. “And here’s this heartbreaking film.”
Shortly after watching “I Know Where I’m Going,” Powell visited Scorsese, who encouraged Schunmaker to come to dinner. They reunited and married in 1984. Powell died in 1990; Pressburger in 1988. Since then, Schunmaker and Scorsese have dedicated themselves – if they are not making films (they are currently finishing editing “Flower Moon Killer”, Apple’s extensive crime film about the 1920s Oklahoma murders in Oklahoma Osage Nation) – to revive Powell’s and Pressburger’s films. Scorsese recently signed a documentary about his films. For years, Schoonmaker combed Powell’s diaries in hopes of publishing them.
“I inherited it,” says Schunmaker, Scorsese’s famous longtime editor. “When Mikhail died, he left me a small stove. What makes me go is love and try to make others love his work. ”
How much can you get from the love of an old movie? For Schoonmaker the answer is almost everything. Scorsese’s fascination with archery films inspired Schunmaker’s own and, in turn, led to the love of her life.
“It all got Marty’s passion for film history,” she says, smiling.
Thanks to financial support from the British Film Institute and Melody Hobson and George Lucas, the Film Foundation has restored more than 925 films, preserving broad sections of film history and picking up the weaknesses of many modern film studios that have shown less. an interest in preserving past cinema than in maintaining streams of new “content”.
“At the moment, these are no longer film companies, but huge media conglomerates. For them, old films are one small element in a wide range of properties and activities, ”says Scorsese. “The people who run them are several generations away from the very question of cinema: the word only makes sense as a marketing term. Their interest is not in making good films, but in making their shareholders richer. So no, restoring Howard Hawks ’painting is not on the list of priorities. The idea that this should be the case, for reasons that have nothing to do with profits and losses, is not even amusing. In this atmosphere, the idea of art has no place. It throws a wrench at work. ”
“I know where I’m going!”, However, means the futility of the best plans. Powell and Pressburger did so in 1944, awaiting the Technicolor cameras that Lawrence Olivier used to create “Henry V”. It is believed that Pressburger wrote this in a few days. They presented this to the Ministry of Information, which controlled wartime film production, as an anti-materialist tale. (Britain feared that military rationing would be followed by consumerism.)
In it, a wayward woman Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller) travels to the Scottish Herbrides (the film was shot on the picturesque island of Mal) to marry a rich lord. But stormy weather does not allow her to cross to Kiloran (Colonce Island). While waiting for the transition, she meets a naval officer (Roger Livesey) from the area. They quickly become involved in local life when we are fascinated by them. Joan feels more and more off course.
But summing up the exciting magic of “I know where I’m going!” never do it right. It is reflected in a warm, lyrical spirit that feels a balance between past and present, legend and reality. This is a movie that you, as helpless as Joan, can’t help but fall in love with.
The devotees of the film are an ardent tribe. The author of “The Great Dream” Raymond Chandler once wrote: “I have never seen a picture that smelled so windy and rainy.” Tilda Swinton, who has a family home on Colossae, thinks, “I know where I’m going!” should be handed out by Scottish diplomats when they travel the globe. “It’s like a confessional,” Swinton says in a video shot for the Film Foundation. “You come back to this every few years.”
“I Know Where I’m Going” is partly about recovering from something – with nature and old ways – that makes it a particularly suitable film to start a restoration show. With a scheduled schedule of sessions and a rich conversation around the film, the virtual cinema is set up in a way that is clearly different from the standard flow.
“We used to watch and listen in our time. Something was gained, but something was also lost, ”says Scorsese. “We felt it was important to create a way to watch movies that would ensure that a larger audience would watch and respond at the same time.”
At a time when film culture may be unsure of its direction, lovingly restored “I know where I’m going!” can help light the way. Anyway, this is one port that lifts the spirits into the storm.
“I have always felt that there can be no present and future in cinema without the past. The films that I saw, that I saw and studied again, that I discovered for myself or through a friend … they enrich me, they inspire me, they support me, ”says Scorsese. “I guess you can imagine someone making movies without worrying about what was done before their time. But the question is: why? What’s the matter? Why not see where you came from? Every movie speaks to every movie before it and to everyone after it. This is true for all art. Isn’t that weird? ”
Follow AP writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP
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