Powell and Pressburger



Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds of Powell + Pressburger is a major UK-wide celebration of one of the greatest and most enduring filmmaking partnerships: Michael Powell (1905-1990) and Emeric Pressburger (1902-1988).

Plymouth Arts Cinema is hosting a multi-venue season of beautiful, dark and mysterious films, talks, workshops and events inspired by and culminating in an immersive screening of Powell and Pressburger’s The Red Shoes in December with a newly commissioned dance work from Barbican Theatre. We want audiences new and old to re-discover the beautiful, transgressive worlds created on screen by the radical imaginations of these hugely influential filmmakers.

Taking The Red Shoes as our main inspiration we will revisit classic films, show new representations of the intensity of dance on screen and invite some special guests to share their love and curiosity for these perfect cinema mavericks. The films take a dark look at the fevered relationship between female creative genius and representations of the monstrous feminine power on screen.

Screening as part of Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds of Powell + Pressburger, a UK-wide film season supported by National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network.


A Matter of Life and Death (U)
Monday 6 November, 7pm, Jill Craigie Cinema, University of Plymouth

Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, UK, 1946, 104 mins. Cast: David Niven, Kim Hunter, Roger Livesey, Raymond Massey.

Associate Professor of Filmmaking at the University of Plymouth, Mark Carey, will introduce ‘Powell & Pressburger’s crowning achievement’ A Matter of Life and Death, discussing its origins, production and cultural significance. David Niven plays a British airman who survives a plane crash and falls in love with an American radio operator (Kim Hunter), only to be summoned to the afterlife by a heavenly ‘Conductor’ (Marius Goring). But is heaven just a hallucination brought on by brain injury? Described by Martin Scorsese as “an audacious film” that is “romantic, daring and beautiful” and by Mark Kermode as “one of the greatest movies ever made”, it has been referenced or riffed on by Aardman, the Harry Potter series, BBC’s Big Train, Marvel, Pet Shop Boys, Phil Collins, and appeared on British stamps and at the opening of the 2012 Olympics.

Tickets £6, £4 concessions, free to University of Plymouth students.


Suspiria (18)
Thursday 16 November, 6pm, Plymouth Arts Cinema

Dir. Luca Guadagnino, Italy/US, 2018, 152 mins. Cast. Dakota Johnson, Mia Goth, Tilda Swinton

A darkness swirls at the centre of a world-renowned dance company in director Luca Guadagnino’s ambitious, dark and feminist re-imaging of Dario Argento’s sublime Suspiria. Unfolding in Berlin in the 70s, it follows Susie Bannion an ambitious young dancer auditioning for a place in a prestigious school. Students are disappearing, and its apparent that some kind of ancient violence lives in the school’s walls. With an eerily brilliant score by Thom Yorke and an earthy, muted colour palette of greens and pale pinks, Guadagnino has made a spellbinding look at corruption, innocence, and female power that expertly blends filmmaking, dance and performance.

Tickets £5, £4 concessions.


Black Swan (15), Introduced by Anna Bogutskaya
Thursday 23 November, 6pm, Plymouth Arts Cinema

Dir. Darren Aronofsky, US, 2010, 108 mins. Cast. Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder.

Black Swan is a psychological thriller set in the New York ballet, that follows Nina, a competitive, dedicated dancer, whose dreams of taking the lead in Swan Lake threaten to overpower her already fragile state of mind. It is impossible to imagine the world of Black Swan without the fever-fuelled influence of The Red Shoes.

Anna Bogutskaya is a freelance critic, author, film programmer and creative producer. She writes for BBC Culture, The Guardian, MUBI, The Face, TimeOut, amongst others, and programmes films for BFI, Edinburgh and Fantastic Fest. She produces and hosts The Final Girls podcast, created and produced the horror anthology podcast Eerie and has produced podcasts for Paramount, Studiocanal, BFI and Vertigo Releasing, as well as contributing to many others. Her first book, Unlikeable Female Characters: The Women Pop Culture Wants You to Hate, was published in the UK and US in May 2023. Her next book, Feeding the Monster, will be published by Faber in 2024.

Tickets £5, £4 concessions.


I Know Where I’m Going! (PG) Introduced by Judith Noble
Thursday 7 December, 6pm, Plymouth Arts Cinema

Dir. Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, UK, 1945, 93 mins. Wendy Hiller, Roger Livesey, Pamela Brown

Headstrong Joan Webster (a wondrous Wendy Hiller) sets off, wedding dress in tow, to marry a rich older man on a remote Hebridean island. Stranded on Mull thanks to the weather, Joan finds herself struggling to cope with the unplanned turn of events. Powell and Pressburger weave their course of true love through flashes of surrealism, a life-threatening whirlpool and an ancient curse, disarming and enchanting in equal measure. But this is a film where small moments count the most – a cigarette passed between two windows or a slip on a ladder – as they build by stealth into something overwhelming. By the end we are left breathless and desperate to book the next night train and ferry to Mull.

Tickets £5, £4 concessions.


The Red Shoes (PG) + Dance Performance
Saturday 9 December, 1.45pm, Plymouth Arts Cinema

Celebrating the intoxication of dancing feet, Barbican Theatre presents a new dance performance featuring Tap, Flamenco and Street dance – the footwork will lead you toward the brilliance of Powell and Pressburgers’ Red Shoes.

Additional screening on Thursday 14 December, 6pm (film only)

Dir. Michael Powell, UK, 1948, 135 mins. Cast. Anton Walbrook, Moira Shearer, Marius Goring.

In a blazing manifesto for The Archers production company, dance, music, design and ‘high style’ combine in ‘total cinema’. In Powell and Pressburger’s visually ravishing masterpiece, a young ballerina is torn between the demands of love and art. Like the heroine of Hans Christian Andersen’s source fairytale, whose magic shoes compel her to dance, Victoria Page – played by real-life ballerina Moira Shearer – finds herself driven to breaking point by obsessive Russian impresario Lermontov when she’s cast in his ballet The Red Shoes. With its captivating behind-the-scenes insight into the creative process, and characters for whom art is more important than life itself, the film has proved an inspiration to filmmakers and dancers alike. The feverish Technicolor and astonishing ballet sequences for which this film is so renowned are as spellbinding as they are disturbing.

Tickets £5, £4 concessions.

Copy of Barbican b orange on white background (NEW 2020)

Dance Workshop and Film Marathon

The Barbican Theatre will host a dance workshop for young people and a film marathon with all of the dance-film guilty pleasures we love (Center Stage, Save the Last Dance, Step Up 4: Miami Heat). Date and details of the event will be announced soon.