Hot Docs Review: Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger (David Hinton, 2024)

As filmmakers go, Martin Scorsese is surely one of the all time greats. With a career going back more than 50 years and including films such as Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, The Last Temptation of Christ and Killers of the Flower Moon, there’s no question he’s made his mark on cinema and has been an influence on many a filmmaker. But who influenced Scorsese? Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger answers this question by taking a look at a pair of filmmakers who may not have the same level of name recognition that Scorsese does, but who have also clearly made their mark on the history of cinema.

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, known collectively as The Archers, began their collaboration back in 1939, making a number of films together throughout the ’40s and ’50s and reuniting for a pair of films in the late ’60s/early ’70s before calling it quits. While the film makes extensive use of footage from Powell and Pressburger’s filmography, Made in England largely makes the case for their significance by simply pointing the camera at Scorsese and letting him expound on why he loves their films so much. And he makes a strong case, describing the sophisticated messages in the “subversive commercial movies” the pair made during WWII and the strong artistic vision they presented in films such as The Red Shoes and The Tales of Hoffman.

As Scorsese waxes poetic on the British duo’s work and offers insight into the influence they had on his own work, it becomes clear that this is just as much a film about Scorsese as it is about its titular subjects. What also comes through clearly is just how much Scorsese loves these films and how much they continue to inspire him. Ultimately, Made in England: The Films of Powell and Pressburger is a love letter to cinema itself. Watching Scorsese talk about these films will likely make those unfamiliar with Powell and Pressburger want to familiarize themselves with their work.

Posted on by Paul in Hot Docs