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A Canterbury Tale (Criterion Collection) back to product details

written by rtarcher July 4, 2007 - 3:54 PM PDT
0 out of 4 members found this review helpful
i would give this a 1/10 but i thought some of the photography looked nice
i don't know what i expected from this film
but, wow, whatever it was it didn't deliver
and less
it starts off as some kind of halfassed mystery that basically gets solved almost immediately but they spend the next hour plus looking for proof
then the whole mystery gets discarded during the last 45 minutes or so just so that everyone can go to canterbury and get "blessed"
the whole point of the film is apparently that canterbury is some magical place where everyone's fears/dreams get resolved
i should've turned it off as soon as we realized this was an overlong uneventfully wack film about 15 minutes in

One of the best, from two of the best filmmakers, ever.
written by talltale July 30, 2006 - 10:27 AM PDT
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful
Here's another rich and wonderful piece of moviemaking from the Powell/Pressburger team--as well as a lovely little time capsule of WWII Britain: the land girls, small town England, and what real patriotism is all about. Watching it now, as America continues to decimate Iraq, forces us to confront the sleazy variety of "patriotism" that much of America and some of Britain are currently experiencing. Made in 1944, while WWII still raged, A CANTERBURY TALE is a discovery as good as anything I've seen from this amazing filmmaking team. Beginning with a lovely link to Chaucer's tales, then using a quick cut that ought to remind you of something Stanley Kubrick is now heralded for doing (though he did it nearly a quarter-century later!), it moves ahead to tell the story of four people whose paths cross to a purpose.

Full of quiet surprise and a lead character (played by Eric Portman) who is enormously problematic, the film makes you look, listen, think and feel intently. For me, cinema can't provide much more. As the movie seems to meander along, it is actually picking up an enormous head of steam which will--at the end--let loose a blast of patriotism, pride, beauty, sound, architecture and spirituality. Regarding the latter, I do not refer to the fact that the finale is set in a cathedral--as beautiful and symbolic as this one may be. This film rises above any stricture of creed because of the honest humanism of its creators.

This is a "war film," as it appears from the view of civilians who remain at home. Among other things, it shows that, while a civilian population in wartime must give up a great deal (concerning Iraq, this is something American at home have yet to do), the rewards can be commensurate. This astonishing film stands, after more than sixty years, as one of those rewards.


(Average 6.71)
24 Votes
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