Monday, March 26, 2018

#668: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

1943, TSPDT Rank #173

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp immediately dispels all preconceived notions of a stoic wartime epic with its madcap opening sequence, which shows a group of British Home Guard officers rushing into a simulated battle for London with reckless abandon. This opening sequence is manic and fragmented to the point of absurdity, but the film soon coalesces into brilliantly-told story of a young British officer who distinguishes himself in the Boer War and World War I, only to become an outmoded symbol of the old guard by the time World War II breaks out. Along the way, Colonel Blimp explores themes like the role of generation gaps, nationalism, military honor, romance, and friendship. The final section of the film reveals it as a subtly-structured piece of propaganda, albeit one which never betrays its multi-faceted view of human nature and pure entertainment value in the process. Since the wartime era in Britain called for more blatantly nationalistic entertainment, Winston Churchill attempted to have the film suppressed, but thankfully it has survived - a unique and unfairly overlooked classic.

Purchase Criterion Blu-ray/DVD

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