The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)

I absolutely love films and stories which capture the life of a main character within them, exploring their flaws, strengths, relationships, and evolution over time. “Forrest Gump” (1994) and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008) are fine examples of that, with the former being my absolute favourite movie. “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp”, directed by the powerhouse team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, may have been one of the pioneers in this manner of storytelling, based upon the British cartoon in the 1930s.

First of all, I have to comment on the absolutely glorious Technicolor used in the film. Bold and strong colours of the sort definitely amplified the caricature nature and environment of our main character, General and eventually Captain Clive Wynne-Candy, played by Roger Livesey. The film takes you on a journey through his military career in the Boer War, WWI, and WWII. Due to mistaken insults on Candy’s part towards German Officers, he duels with a German officer by the name of Theo¬†Kretschmar-Schuldorff (Anton Walbrook) during the Boer War. Much to my surprise, these two gentleman become best friends. Their respect and admiration for one another is evident throughout the film. A young Deborah Kerr is also in the film, playing the roles of a different woman during each war. Each character she plays also has a great fondness for Candy, which is mirrored.

Candy’s character and integrity are definitely on display throughout the film. While he is a man with good humour, he also believes strongly in dignity and honour towards the rules of the military, his colleagues. and his friends. That honour is challenged in WWII, as the spreading power and intimidation of the Nazis creates a world of fear. This unleashes spontaneity and lack of preparation in war tactics by very young soldiers on the side of the Allies. Must Candy, a now crusty old man, change his values to adapt with the changing times? Or should he hold steadfast to his ideals and morals? This is a dilemma which all humans face as we deal with daily challenges in the context of our current political and socioeconomic climate. Developing a sense of self grounds us, and helps us to create an identity which we can defend. This plight will always be a constant theme throughout the world, and Candy is one character in film who ponders and navigates through this universal predicament.

I do not own the above image.


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