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United Kingdom 1945
Directed by
Michael Powell / Emeric Pressburger
91 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

I Know Where I'm Going!

If you like the quintessentially British style of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, I Know  Where I'm Going! will be a treat. If not, it may not be the most immediately appealing of introductions but so many of the team’s characteristic mannerism are evident – the cinematic craftsmanship, the documentary-like concern for the specifics of landscape and local culture mixed with high-minded romanticism with its pure-hearted hero and high strung heroine, the whole thing wrapped in an overall sense of contended self-satisfaction cut with a knowing irony, a blend which gave their work an unique character.

The film was made at the end of WW2 and shot on location in the outer Hebrides by P & P’s regular cinematographer, Erwin Hillier, in one exquisite black-and-white frame after another. The story concerns a self-possessed young woman (Wendy Hiller) who is heading to the island of Kiloran off the coast of Scotland to marry the wealthy scion of a chemical manufacturer. Joan knows where she is going until she meets the pipe-smoking, kilt-wearing laird (played by P & P regular, Roger Livesey) who with his wise charm causes the earth to move beneath her feet.

The opposition between the pretensions of the vacuous well-to-do and the home-spun appeal of simple country folk in harmony with Nature or the appeal of direct plain-speaking individuals (represented by Pamela Brown, then Powell’s lover as Catriona and C.W.R. Knight as Colonel Barnstaple) is driven home with typical P & P relish. Subtlety was not P & P’s strong point but I Know Where I Am Going! is a strong example of what they were good at, the closing scene which equivocally presents the lovers' union as one of being chained together, a fine example of the team's double-edged wit.

FYI: Testifying to Powell’s skill as a film-maker, Livesey, who was appearing in a play in London during the entire filming never set foot on location. Instead Powell used a double for exteriors or shot exteriors just outside London. The result is seamless.

Powell’s first major film, The Edge Of The World, 1937, was also set in The Hebrides.




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