Who are The Archers?
Unwittingly, I was introduced to these famed filmmakers during my high school years when forced by my piano teacher to watch the The Red Shoes. He hoped I would gain a greater understanding of the Romantic Movement; instead, my 14-year-old self lamented a loss of two hours.
Now I know better.
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, otherwise known as The Archers, were a team of iconic British filmmakers prolific during the 1940s and 1950s. Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, Wes Anderson and George Lucas comprise a lengthy roster of auteur admirers who cite them as major influences. While the subjects of their films varies widely–from World War II combat to ballet theatre life, vivid colors and original storylines remain constants in each of their works.
While Powell generally served as the director and Pressburger as the scriptwriter, both were equals as producers. In order to preserve their artistic integrity, the Archers cut all ties with major studios and, over the years, assembled a team of cast and crew that collaborated on many of their projects. Because they were free from constraint, the Archers’ creations were unlike anything churned out by their peers. Today their films are just as groundbreaking as decades prior.
Most striking about their catalog are the dramatic images and saturated colors. Below are some of my favorite stills from Black Narcissus, a piece that explores themes of man versus woman, modernization versus nature, and human nature versus societal constraints. It’s one of my favorite movies both visually and thematically.
Some of my favorite scenes from The Red Shoes. You can just feel the Romanticism oozing out of these photos: