Showroom Classics: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp U

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From the archive

This film was last shown on 16 May 2024

One of the greatest British films of all time, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp was one of the many staggering masterpieces produced by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes).

Colonel Blimp was a cartoon character made famous by David Low in the pages of the Evening Standard. Pompous and irascible, with a huge walrus moustache, he pontificated on the affairs of the world from the comfort of his Turkish bath, a man out of his time. A ridiculous enough old specimen. But, as he himself asks: “How do you know what sort of a fellow I was when I was as young as you 40 years ago?” “You'll stay just as you are till the floods come.”

Powell and Pressburger’s 1943 film addresses themes of aging, identity and time. The person we become is not the person we were. And the person we love, well, who is she or he? We try to recover what we lost so long ago but it is gone beyond all recovery as are our vanished younger selves. The very ideals that once defined us become out of date and absurd.

As with the best of Powell and Pressburger, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is not only a treat for the eyes but also a masterclass in emotional and intellectual storytelling.


Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell
2 hours 43 minutes
Anton Walbrook, Deborah Kerr, Roger Livesey


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