Michael Powell (director)

English film director (1905-1990)

Michael Latham Powell (30 September 1905 – 19 February 1990) was an English film director, celebrated for his partnership with Emeric Pressburger. Through their production company "The Archers", they together wrote, produced and directed a series of classic British films, notably 49th Parallel (1941), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), A Matter of Life and Death (1946, also called Stairway to Heaven), Black Narcissus (1947), The Red Shoes (1948), and The Tales of Hoffmann (1951). His later controversial 1960 film Peeping Tom, while today considered a classic, and a contender as the first "slasher", was so vilified on first release that his career was seriously damaged.

Michael Powell (1943)

Many film-makers such as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and George A. Romero have cited Powell as an influence. In 1981, he received the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award along with his partner Pressburger, the highest honour the British Film Academy can give a filmmaker.


  • [of his wife Frankie] "In fact, if only I had been the perfect husband, she would have been the perfect wife."
    • Million Dollar Movie
  • "I live cinema. I chose the cinema when I was very young, sixteen years old, and from then on my memories virtually coincide with the history of the cinema ... I'm not a director with a personal style, I am simply cinema. I have grown up with and through cinema; everything that I've had in the way of education has been through the cinema; insofar as I'm interested in images, in books, in music, it's all due to the cinema."
    • Midi-Minuit Fantastique, Oct. 1968
  • "I got my first assignment as a director in 1927. I was slim, arrogant, intelligent, foolish, shy, cocksure, dreamy and irritating. Today, I'm no longer slim."
    • Michael Powell, 1987


  • Jack Cardiff once asked Powell "Michael, do you make films for all types of audiences, or just for yourself?" Michael shook his head vigorously. "I make films for myself. What I express I hope most people will understand. For the rest, well, that's their problem."
  • "My master in film, Buñuel, was a far greater storyteller than I. It was just that in my films miracles occur on the screen."
  • "We decided to go ahead with David O. (Selznick) the way hedgehogs make love: verrry carefully !"
  • "For ten years we had all been told to go out and die for freedom and democracy; but now the war was over, The Red Shoes told us to go out and die for art."
  • "Actors and technicians were being demobbed every day. Very soon the only ham actor left in the combined forces would be General George Patton."
  • "The great innovators have always been fearless.... I have fallen off haystacks, out of trees, over cliffs. I have been nearly drowned, shot and hanged. I have been in countless car crashes without getting a scratch. I have been alone in an office with Louis B. Mayer."
  • "Art is merciless observation, sympathy, imagination, and a sense of detachment that is almost cruelty."
  • "Everyone has heard of Canterbury if only because they murder archbishops there."
  • "[After Peeping Tom] When they got me on my own [the critics] gleefully sawed off the limb and jumped up and down on the corpse."
  • "The truth lies in black and white."
  • "Seventy years ago there were men like D.W. Griffith and seventy years later - now - there are not many men like Martin Scorsese. But so long as there is one there will be others, and the art of the cinema will survive."
  • "I am the teller of the tale, not the creator of the story."
  • "Of course, all films are surrealist. They are because they are making something that looks like a real world but isn't."

Quotes about Michael PowellEdit

  • he was determined to make Earthsea into a movie.

External linksEdit

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