Martin Scorsese will narrate a documentary extolling Powell and Pressburger’s genius

The directorial duo known as The Archers gave the world resplendent visions of fantasy like Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes.


Charles Bramesco


Well, it’s been just about two weeks since Martin Scorsese last made headlines for an act of devoutly undying devotion to classical cinema, so we must be due for another. Shortly after announcing that his Film Foundation would launch a free screening room exhibiting such gems of the past as Powell and Pressburger‘s romance I Know Where I’m Going, Scorsese has now announced that he’s already got another monument to his filmmaking idols in the works.

The number-one superfan of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, the directorial duo known as The Archers, will narrate a new documentary about their life, works, and legacy. The as-of-now untitled film will be directed by David Hinton, but allow Scorsese a platform to speak personally about his longtime connection to such masterpieces as Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, and The Tales of Hoffmann, and then eventually to Powell himself.

The Archers reign supreme over English cinema, having given the medium some of its most rapturous expressions of fantasy, longing, adventure, and heartbreak with innovative camera techniques and production design. During a boyhood spent indoors, Scorsese fell in love with the movies by seeing these films, in which it felt like anything and everything could be made possible through sheer technical and creative inspiration. In adulthood, he’d cultivate a close friendship with Powell as a mentor-turned-peer, and introduced him to wife Thelma Schoonmaker, editor on Scorsese’s films.

The upcoming film will collate a huge array of archival material from both Scorsese’s collection and Powell and Pressburger’s estates, using diary excerpts, audio recordings, home movies, candid photography, and film clips to depict these men both as individuals and a grander galvanizing force for a generation of artists. Scorsese’s official statement articulates the high esteem in which he holds his subjects: “I still find it extraordinary that I knew Michael Powell personally for sixteen years – and, throughout that time, he was not only a support, but a guide, pushing me along, giving me confidence, keeping me bold in my own work. I’ve seen the films that he made with Emeric over and over again but the experience of excitement and mystery that I get from them doesn’t just remain, it deepens. I don’t know how it happens but for me, their body of work is a wondrous presence, a constant source of energy, and a reminder of what life and art are all about.”

A date for the upcoming documentary has yet to be set, but cinephiles around the world won’t miss a chance to sit for a lecture from the dean of American film-lovers, already somewhat professorial in the lucid, eloquent way he explains his admiration for the greats. Anyone who’s attended an event in which Martin Scorsese is given a platform to speak at length about anything knows what a privilege it is to share in his enthused passion — spreading that to the world is an absolute good.

Published 4 May 2022

Tags: Emeric Pressburger Martin Scorsese Michael Powell

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