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Sun, 10 Dec

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Former Bristol IMAX (Bristol Aquarium)

Powell & Pressburger at War Double Bill: South West Silents

Powell & Pressburger at War Double Bill: South West Silents
Powell & Pressburger at War Double Bill: South West Silents

Time & Location

10 Dec 2023, 12:00

Former Bristol IMAX (Bristol Aquarium) , Anchor Rd, Bristol BS1 5TT, UK

About the Event

As part of the BFI's Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds of Powell + Pressburger season, South West Silents presents a special double bill highlighting one of Powell and Pressburger's final key projects, the epic story of the first major British victory of the Second World War, The Battle of the River Plate.

And what better way to see it than on the biggest screen in the south west, the former Bristol IMAX.

As a perfect extra, we also bring one of the true great British wartime documentaries with a special screening of the Technicolor masterpiece, Western Approaches (1944) shot by P&P regular Jack Cardiff with thanks to the Imperial War Museums.

Finally, Western Approaches will be introduced by Dr Toby Haggith (Imperial War Museum) and The Battle of the River Plate by Antiques Roadshow Militaria Expert Mark Smith.

12:00pm: Western Approaches (1944): Regarded as one of the best British documentaries of the Second World War, Western Approaches pays tribute to the bravery of the Merchant Navy and the perils they faced during the Atlantic Convoys.

Directed by Pat Jackson and brilliantly shot in Technicolor by acclaimed cinematographer Jack Cardiff (Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes), this dramatized Crown Film Unit retelling of an attempted U-Boat attack uses real merchant seamen to re-enact their roles. Both realistic and dramatic, the film carries a powerful authenticity, which is reinforced by its stunning colour imagery.

A crowning achievement of the British Documentary Movement that flourished in the 1930s and 40s, this landmark film is presented in a new 2K restoration by Imperial War Museums.

2:00pm: The Battle of the River Plate (1956): August 1939, ten days before the outbreak of the Second World War, the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee quietly sets course for the South Atlantic. Its mission, to rage havoc on Allied shipping in the region.

Classed as a phantom predator at first, the Royal Navy begin playing a cat-and-mouse game with the feared German warship. The hunt would conclude with three out gunned British Cruisers (Exeter, Ajax, Achilles) taking on the much heavier German battleship Graf Spee. The Battle of the River Plate had began.

With an incredible cast and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, the film is notable for its amazing sea battles, made possible by, among others, the co-operation of the Admiralty, The Royal Navy and The US Navy and for its non-stereotypical depiction of characters on both sides of the war.

Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds of Powell + Pressburger is a major UK-wide celebration of one of the greatest and most enduring filmmaking partnerships: Michael Powell (1905-1990) and Emeric Pressburger (1902-1988).

South West Silents would like to thank Imperial War Museums, ITV Studios and the BFI Audience Network.

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