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Stairway to Heaven

  • Date Submitted: 11/30/2013 01:18 PM
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Chelsea Sullivan
ENG 375 Final Paper
Diane Christian
25 April 2013

The Depiction of Heaven, Hell and Judgment in A Matter of Life and Death

In 1945, World War II had ultimately come to an end, enabling Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger to write, direct, and produce the world famous film A Matter of Life and Death; known in the United States as Stairway to Heaven. During the 1940s, Hollywood mostly produced light comedy-drama films, depicting a slightly sugarcoated fantasy world. A Matter of Life and Death was one of several films that incorporated the elements of lavish budgets, Technicolor, and fantasy; making it one of the most metaphysically intricate films ever made in the English language. Even though the motion picture was released under two separate titles, they both manage to uniquely fit the film exceptionally well. Death and judgment are both symbolized and represented throughout the film in many different scenarios; enabling the movie to relate to several different texts, images, and aspects studied in this course.
In this heartwarming film the main character, Peter Carter, cheats death when his plane malfunctions and his parachute gets ripped to shreds. He was scheduled to part from the physical world; but due to the thick fog, Conductor 71 fails to find Peter freefalling over the English Channel. From the moment of the plane crash on, the movie alternates between two distinct realms, forcing the viewer to decide which is true. In the known world, Peter suffers from a brain injury after the crash and must undergo surgery in order to survive. In the other world, a spiritual and heavenly realm, Peter must sue for his life in celestial court after he is accidentally given a second chance to live. In order to fix his careless mistake, Conductor 71 must retrieve Peter from Earth and escort him to the afterlife. However, prior to the crash, Peter manages to contact an American radio operator, June. In the 20 extra hours of life, he ends up...


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