After miraculously surviving a jump from his burning plane, RAF pilot Peter Carter (David Niven) encounters the American radio operator (Kim Hunter) to whom he has just delivered his dying wishes, and the pair fall in love. When a messenger from the hereafter arrives to correct the bureaucratic error that spared his life, Peter must mount a fierce defense for his right to stay on earth—painted by production designer Alfred Junge and cinematographer Jack Cardiff as a rich Technicolor Eden—climbing a wide staircase to stand trial in a starkly beautiful, black-and-white modernist afterlife.
Intended to smooth tensions between the wartime allies Britain and America, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s richly humanistic A Matter of Life and Death traverses time and space to make a case for the transcendent value of love.
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