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Brainland

A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH: The story of a movie.

Season 1, Ep. 28

'A Matter of Life and Death' (AMOLAD) is a 1946 film by Michael Powell and Emerich Pressberger. Peter Carter, a bomber pilot is returning from the last raid of the war. His plane and parachute are shot up so he decides to 'jump rather than fry' and has a last conversation over the radio with June, an American radio operator before jumping, as he expects, to his death. He doesn't die but washes up on a beach and as a love story unfolds between him and June he is menaced by recurrent episodes (clinically, complex partial epileptic seizures though the words aren't mentioned in the film) during which a 'conductor' from the afterlife tries to persuade him to return with him as he shouldn't really have survived. The film culminates in a realistically staged neurosurgical operation on Peter whilst in the afterlife his case to go on living is put on trial trial. Ian explains why this is his favourite film of all time (as it is Ken's),their conversation ranging over origin and influences, forebears and progeny, design and music, the clincial neuroscience that underpins it and much more.


Participants:

Ian Christie, Professor of Film and Media History, Birckbeck, University of London. www.ianchristie.org

Ken Barrett, artist and writer, retired neuropsychiatrist http://www.kenbarrettstudio.co.uk/


For more about 'A Matter of Life and Death': https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038733/ (SEE IT!)

https://www.bfi.org.uk/film/b58b75d7-e9e2-5a1f-a448-afa92a35462d/a-matter-of-life-and-death

In the UK it is currently (on 21.6.24) On BBC Iplayer.

Ian's book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Matter-Life-Death-Film-Classics/dp/1839023899

The other book mentioned, on the neuroscientific background of the film, is by Diane Broadbent Friedman: https://www.amazon.com/Matter-Life-Death-Revealed-Michael/dp/1438909454/ref=sr_1_1?crid=44HWRLDHFBAD&dib=eyJ2IjoiMSJ9.OOo1Jr5zS9T5S66Qxafa0k1nEXlGBWJ8OtH_BdckQVxe0Adbh0U9UUXtsF-ikO6S470ZJafISz1fi5BjjOZt-K4rfe3RUVnVfT9z9-aIffzEet5ZKUBDQFbGEV1HSo4yU3JpZWvHWWe5uGzjy5AUH9iAiT5oKdx7a4wWP-x7lubaTLPDggjtJ2wGe_Lz08kwaBYDzg2E6_aKIPxfYYVvKk2vtaR4ghzBqTRUdFZ8-kE.RnIRY1ho2lgxZvWxZW4th9yrxYt89JrWLPj42mXYmKg&dib_tag=se&keywords=friedman.+a+matter+of+life+and+death&qid=1719513403&sprefix=friedman.+a+matter+of+life+and+death%2Caps%2C96&sr=8-1

This is a paper by the same author: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1344781/


This is the the book by Frigyes Karinthy which was part of the inspiration: https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/A_Journey_Round_My_Skull.html?id=trCxtdw5OHcC&redir_esc=y


Opening music, extract from the prelude to Brainland by Stephen Brown.

Brainland the opera website: www.brainlandtheopera.co.uk


Sketch by KB.

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