94 I Know Where I'm Going!

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Martha
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94 I Know Where I'm Going!

#1 Post by Martha » Sat Feb 12, 2005 8:53 pm

I Know Where I'm Going!

[img]http://criterion_production.s3.amazonaws.com/release_images/599/94_box_348x490_w100.jpg[/img]

In Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's stunningly photographed comedy, romance flourishes in an unlikely place—the bleak and moody Scottish Hebrides. Wendy Hiller stars as a headstrong young woman who travels to these remote isles to marry a rich lord. Stranded by stormy weather, she meets a handsome naval officer (Roger Livesey) who threatens to thwart her carefully laid-out life plans.

Special Features

- Beautiful digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Erwin Hillier
- Audio essay by film historian Ian Christie
- Behind-the-scenes stills, narrated by Thelma Schoonmaker Powell
- The 1994 documentary I Know Where I'm Going! Revisited, by Mark Cousins
- Excerpts from Michael Powell's 1937 feature The Edge of The World, with commentary, and the 1978 documentary Return to the Edge of the World
- Photo essay by I Know Where I'm Going! aficionado Nancy Franklin, who explores the locations used in the film
- Home movies from one of Michael Powell's Scottish expeditions, narrated by Thelma Schoonmaker Powell
- English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impaired
- Optimal image quality: RSDL dual-layer edition

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zedz
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#2 Post by zedz » Tue May 31, 2005 12:10 am

A fantastic film. In my personal ranking of the Powell/Pressburger films there seems to be a close correlation between personal preference and level of eccentricity, which means that this film gets placed somewhere near the top (but not quite as high as A Canterbury Tale).

For most of its length, the film is an idiosyncratic romance told at a gentle trot, but the headlong opening sequences are electrifying: I'm always astonished how much information the filmmakers manage to cram into a brief duration - and so elegantly as well. It's bravura filmmaking of the highest order, an out-of-left-field, but quite fitting, show of strength ahead of the general restraint that follows (until we get to the whirlpool finale, anyway).

I'm also quite fond of the extras on this disc, which match the personality and passion of the feature, with Thelma Schoonmaker reminiscing fondly about her husband and ultra-fan Nancy Franklin documenting her pilgrimage to the locations.

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devlinnn
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#3 Post by devlinnn » Tue May 31, 2005 4:33 am

Christ, if only other filmmakers would learn their craft by watching such supreme examples of film language on offer here. There are so many pricless moments. As you mention zedz, the opening passages are stunning examples of pure film story-telling. I love Pamela Brown's entrance, with her dogs, coming out of the cold and into the fire. It easily ranks as one of the finest 'hello there' moments in movies. You can taste the love and lust Powell had for the actress in the low angle framing; a figure of individual strength and warmth. I'm always knocked out by it, along with the scene at the ceilidh, as it climaxes to the translation of 'You're the girl for me'. The crosscutting is friggin' incredible here, never failing to move me very deeply. [/i]

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GringoTex
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#4 Post by GringoTex » Sun Sep 18, 2005 12:31 am

I just saw this for the first time and was blown away by it. There are three love stories going on here: that between the two leads, that between Powell and Pamela Brown, and that between Powell and Scotland. That may be why the love story on film feels both so universal and so distanced at the same time.

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#5 Post by Brian Oblivious » Sun Sep 18, 2005 4:38 pm

devlinnn wrote:Christ, if only other filmmakers would learn their craft by watching such supreme examples of film language on offer here.
Here's an interesting tidbit you may have run across before:
imdb trivia wrote:In 1947 Emeric Pressburger met the head of the script department at Paramount who told Emeric that they used _I Know Where I'm Going! (1945)_ as an example of the perfect screenplay which was shown to any writers stuck for inspiration or who needed a lesson in screen writing.
It's coming to the Mill Valley Film Festival. One of my favorite films not yet seen on the big screen, I've marked my calendar.

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Tommaso
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#6 Post by Tommaso » Thu Jun 22, 2006 6:00 am

I watched it yesterday for the very first time, with admittedly very high expectations, having been blown away by some other P&P films recently. Strangely, I feel slightly disappointed, but I cannot even say precisely why. The cinematography is gorgeous as ever, as is the acting, but it seems that here the story itself does not properly work for me. The transformation from society girl to 'loving' woman did not quite convince me, as well as that very strange twist with the curse actually bringing the lovers together...

Some scenes are just great (the dream sequence, Pamela Brown's Diana-style first entry), but as a whole, IKWIG for me lacks a little of the 'mythic' intensity of "The edge of the world" (one of Powell's greatest masterpieces, and an obvious comparison to this one). And as to romanticism and melodrama, I would prefer "Gone to Earth" (if only because of the incredible technicolor there).

Don't get me wrong: IKWIG is undoubtedly great, but still perhaps the least of the 'great' P&P films. Still, it's a must see, if only for Pamela Brown. As always, Powell had extremely good taste, I really don't understand why Pressburger found her ugly...

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Ives
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#7 Post by Ives » Thu Jun 22, 2006 8:39 am

I remember watching this with a group of friends. I really wanted them to love it like I do, but I had the feeling the whole time that they weren't getting it - the mystical romance of Scotland embedded in every gorgeous black and white frame was passing them by. For me, the cinematography transcends the story, while lending it extra weight. I remember feeling afterward that they should come back the next night and watch it again. Every word, look, gesture, angle etc. is vital to the overall effect of the film, moreso than most films I can think of. Getting the specifics of the story out of the way with a first viewing helps one to get to the many wonderful layers of meaning underneath.

So, what I'm saying is, perhaps you might give it another chance?

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Tommaso
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#8 Post by Tommaso » Thu Jun 22, 2006 10:13 am

I definitely will give it another chance! The thing with P&P films is that regardless of what you thing of the plot, there are images and sounds that you just cannot get out of your head anymore if you have seen them once. It's already beginning to work with IKWIG as well: the whirlpool, the face of Catriona, the image of Wendy Hiller standing on the shore in the evening light.... and this unforgettableness is surely a mark of quality in a film.

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zedz
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#9 Post by zedz » Thu Jun 22, 2006 5:10 pm

I admit that I was in love with the film from the first time I saw those amazing first ten minutes, but it's a movie that ages beautifully. It's more engaging and enjoyable every time I see it, despite (or maybe because of) the slightness of the story.

(Actually, I don't think Gone to Earth is even worthy of licking Pamela's boots!)

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skuhn8
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#10 Post by skuhn8 » Fri Jun 23, 2006 3:33 am

zedz wrote:I admit that I was in love with the film from the first time I saw those amazing first ten minutes, but it's a movie that ages beautifully. It's more engaging and enjoyable every time I see it, despite (or maybe because of) the slightness of the story.

(Actually, I don't think Gone to Earth is even worthy of licking Pamela's boots!)
yup. have to say amen to this post in its entirety. It's no wonder that Paramount used the script as a kick in the ass for its screenwriters when they got stuck. Gone to Earth runs rough-shod over the viewer while IKWIG is like a fine wine, and man! that travel montage is glorious. For me this film resonates all the more as my number one holiday destination in the world is the Highlands. Magic hills and the film is a most worthy supplicant.

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Tommaso
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#11 Post by Tommaso » Fri Jun 23, 2006 7:06 am

zedz wrote:(Actually, I don't think Gone to Earth is even worthy of licking Pamela's boots!)
Ah, who would be worthy of doing that? But, seriously (and not wanting to enter into a fruitless quarrel about IKWIG vs GTE, as both are so much superior to almost anything else made around the time) what precisely is it that you guys don't like about "Gone to Earth"? I agree that the acting in IKWIG is better, and that it probably is more fine-spun. On the other hand, that somewhat more 'rough' approach of the later film strengthens the 'archetypal', timeless quality of the story.The cinematography and style in both films is top notch, I think.

Thinking about it, perhaps the only ' problem' (and as I said, really only a minor one) I have with IKWIG is that the clash between mid-20th century 'reality' and the 'mythical' life of the Highlands is too easily solved; "Gone to Earth" avoids that problem by being set in a more remote time. Thus it attains something more of a fairy-tale character (furthered by the association of the heroine with the fox, of course), and perhaps this is what makes the film more accessible to me than IKWIG. And well, probably my love for GtE also has something to do with Jennifer Jones (whereas I really can't understand why Livesey is so much after Wendy Hiller, especially if he lives door-to-door with Pamela Brown anyway....).

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Ives
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#12 Post by Ives » Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:49 am

I really can't understand why Livesey is so much after Wendy Hiller, especially if he lives door-to-door with Pamela Brown anyway.
Yeah, but she's, like, practically his sister...

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Tommaso
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#13 Post by Tommaso » Fri Jun 23, 2006 12:18 pm

sei2 wrote:Yeah, but she's, like, practically his sister.
But, if I understand it correctly, Powell originally wanted to have Livesey and Brown to have been a couple in some former time before the action of the movie takes place, but was talked out of it by Pressburger... perhaps it would have been too much of a twist to the story...

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Ives
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#14 Post by Ives » Fri Jun 23, 2006 1:03 pm

That's interesting - is that from the DVD extras? I'll have to check that out.

In the film it seems more like they're close cousins: there's a spark of flirtatiousness between them, but they'd never consider going further than that. Ever have a cousin like that? I mean in that way, not like Pamela Brown....

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Tommaso
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#15 Post by Tommaso » Sat Jun 24, 2006 5:17 am

I honestly don't remember where I got that info from, but most likely it's on one of the extras (probably the audio commentary). I may have missed something, but as far as I can see the film never really defines how they came to know each other. They seem to be very close, indeed, but not necessary relatives. But well, I can't comment on how it is to have a cousin or sister like that, as I don't have any....

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#16 Post by Scharphedin2 » Mon Jan 01, 2007 7:06 pm

Having just recently viewed A Canterbury Tale, and reading your thoughts about I Know Where I Am Going, I really wish that I could sit down right away and see this again.

Concerning Livesey's past relationship to Pamela, I could have sworn that there is a reference to it in the film itself early on, after she first makes that amazing entrance with all the hounds. Even if there is no overt reference, I am thinking that it must have been expressed in the looks of Pamela and Livesey.

As to the reason for Livesey falling for Wendy (and not Pamela), I think this is part of the mysticism that is ingrained in the story, and that we only understand at the very end. This is the thing that is so wonderful about many of Powell and Pressburger's films -- this fairy dust (as Tommaso would have it) -- there is almost some universal presence at play, and even if the characters do not completely understand, they are guided in their actions by it. The reason that Pamela and Livesey have not become a couple a long time ago, I think, is because, whether they are intellectually aware of the curse or not, they intuitively know that Livesey has a destiny to fulfill other than to marry her. To me at least that is very clear. Nothing in this film really acts according to any clear rationality -- look at the wind and the sea, and the apparently coincidental nature of many of the plot turns. As viewers, we become aware of the greater design of the story, at the same moment Livesey does, and then it all makes perfect sense within the "logic" of the film.

As mentioned, it has been a while since I saw this wonderful film, but that is how I remember it.

With respect to Gone To Earth, I am with Tommaso to a certain extent. I saw this even longer ago, but I remember it more vividly than I Know Where I Am Going (maybe due to the stunning color photography). Yes, Pamela was such an attractive woman in I Know Where I Am Going, because she is natural and her physical beauty is not out of this world -- it would actually (in a very blessed life) be possible to meet a woman somewhat close to her in charm (if not in values). Jennifer Jones on the other hand is larger than life, and her beauty is as mystical and mythical as the world she inhabits in Gone To Earth, and you just know that the world has already been made perfect in this film, and there is no way that you will ever meet Jennifer in this life.

However, I think that the The Jones/Selznick influence on Gone To Earth is also the reason that the film is slightly less powerful than I Know Where I Am Going in the end. The subtle spiritual presence that becomes such a powerful ingredient in Powell and Pressburger's films, precisely because of its elusiveness, is heightened in Gone To Earth by the presence of Jones, and probably due to Selznick's influence, and even the use of technicolor. The amplification of this element moves the film into the realm of (near-)fantasy, whereas I Know Where I Am Going always remains very much rooted in a world that may be alien to the viewer, but still real and plausible.

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Gordon
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#17 Post by Gordon » Mon Jan 01, 2007 9:19 pm

I actually watched Gone to Earth (UK DVD) yesterday, as I am reading cinematographer, Christopher Challis' autobiography, Are They Really So Awful? and so I dug it out. Let there be no doubt - it is one of the most impressive works of Technicolor cinematography. Freddie Francis was the camera operator. Challis doesn't get as much respect as Jack Cardiff, but he should, as his work is exquisite: Genevieve, The Victors, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Two for the Road, Mary, Queen of Scots as well as the nine films for Powell and Pressburger.

Gone to Eath is a strange film, though. Jones' welsh accent is pretty ropey (who cares, she's to die for) but it is an enjoyable yarn with stunning set design and cinematography.

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Tommaso
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#18 Post by Tommaso » Tue Jan 02, 2007 7:12 am

Scharphedin2 wrote:As to the reason for Livesey falling for Wendy (and not Pamela), I think this is part of the mysticism that is ingrained in the story, and that we only understand at the very end. This is the thing that is so wonderful about many of Powell and Pressburger's films -- this fairy dust (as Tommaso would have it) -- there is almost some universal presence at play, and even if the characters do not completely understand, they are guided in their actions by it.
Yes, I totally have to agree with you, now that my first viewing of the film is a few months past. I really don't know how it happened, but the film really STUCK in my head since then, although I haven't had the time to rewatch it. The deep mystical quality of IKWIG that I didn't realise properly at first must be the reason. Curious experience, really, because when actually watching it first all my usual critical intellectual faculties were apparently working, and rationally it's possible to find some faults with the film which I pointed out then. But there is something going on on a deeper level, obviously, something that works invisibly on your subconscious mind which makes the film impressive and unforgettable in a way I have very seldom experienced anywhere else. Perhaps only "Stalker" or some of Cocteau's work did the same for me, and of course some other P&P films, "Canterbury Tale" in particular.
Scharphedin2 wrote: Yes, Pamela was such an attractive woman in I Know Where I Am Going, because she is natural and her physical beauty is not out of this world -- it would actually (in a very blessed life) be possible to meet a woman somewhat close to her in charm (if not in values).
That would be a real blessing, yes, but having seen her since in some other films, I find her an even more otherworldly creature than I thought before. Her beauty is natural, yes, but there is a somewhat irreal radiance emitting from her face that is really,really unusual (sorry for waxing lyrical here...). Watching her few silent (!) appearances in Olivier's "Richard III" was enough to reward me for sitting through that otherwise pretty slow-going (to put it mildly) film. And then reading about her physical illness in Powell's autobiography, her heavy suffering from arthritis (even at the time of IKWIG) and the way she put up with it before that illness actually killed her at age 50 or so. Powell praises her in highest words, and even if he was in love with her, well, who wouldn't?
Scharphedin2 wrote: The amplification of this element moves the film into the realm of (near-)fantasy, whereas I Know Where I Am Going always remains very much rooted in a world that may be alien to the viewer, but still real and plausible.
Quite true, but perhaps it's precisely this what I like about the film, and it fits perfectly into the direction Powell's films were taking at that time. A transformation of the real world into a realm of pure art and fantasy, starting with "Red Shoes" and reaching its high-point with "Hoffmann", of course. The problem of Jennifer Jones in "Gone to Earth" is much the same as Moira's in "Red Shoes", the conflict between a 'healthy' and settled life in 'reality' or a more fulfilling, but finally lethal life in a mythical, or more ancient world (in GTE, or in art in "The Red Shoes"). I think this was also very much Powell's problem with respect to film-making, and at least in the films of the late 40s/early 50s he opted for art rather than continuing the row of easy success. And because Pressburger wouldn't want to follow that path eventually, they first produced two rather mediocre films ("River Plate" and "Moonlight") before finally falling apart as a team. It was a revelation to read (in "Million Dollar Movie") what Powell would have liked to have actually done in the 50s if he had found support: an adaptation of Fouques "Undine", a film about Richard Strauss, and of course "The Tempest", heavily relying on music and dance, with several Ariels to be played by several girls,, and with John Gielgud as Prospero. Sounds like some of these ideas were taken over by Greenaway for his version, doesn't it?

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#19 Post by ezmbmh » Thu Mar 08, 2007 7:48 pm

If anyone's still interested, the notion of a relationship earlier between Livesey and Brown is mentioned by Thelma Schoonmaker in her stills narrative. Found it quite touching how she mentioned it and Powell's subsequent long relationship with Brown (the future husband of Schoonmaker) matter-of-factly, even happily.

As to why Livesey doesn't choose Brown, I'm not sure this clears it up or not, but he's never been able to go into the castle and face reading the curse. Perhaps, for all Brown's liveliness, it takes Hiller's headstrong heedless grabbing at life that frees him to go look, and them both to each other.

edit: Powell, not Brown, the future husband of Schoonmaker). woops.

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#20 Post by Ashirg » Thu Mar 08, 2007 8:03 pm

Speaking of which, it's playing on TCM at 8pm EST tonight.

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Gordon
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#21 Post by Gordon » Thu Mar 08, 2007 8:38 pm

Ashirg wrote:Speaking of which, it's playing on TCM at 8pm EST tonight.
Could someone check to see if it is as scratchy as the Criterion? That's the one thing that lets down that magnificent disc.

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tryavna
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#22 Post by tryavna » Thu Mar 08, 2007 9:43 pm

I've been glancing at TCM's version from time to time over the past 40 minutes, and I must say that the print looks superior to the one used on the Criterion DVD: far fewer "speckles" and no slightly greenish tint yet. (To be honest, I don't think Criterion's release is that bad, but it's been a while since I watched it last.) Maybe someone else is watching tonight's showing all the way through...?

BTW, the newer MGM logo appeared just before the original Rank logo, so it must be a totally different print.
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Gordon
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#23 Post by Gordon » Thu Mar 08, 2007 9:44 pm

No, no - the 35mm element used for the transfer is scratchy, not the disc. Is that where I caused confusion? It is a wee bit scratchy - it certainly didn't get the MTI treatment. It's still a finely-detailed, well-balanced transfer - far better than the R2.

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Gordon
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#24 Post by Gordon » Thu Mar 08, 2007 10:16 pm

Cheers, tryavna! I don't notice a greenish tint myself on the Criterion; what I am noticing as I type this, is shimmering and the certainly the uncharacteristic (for Criterion) nicks, specks and scratches. The begining of chapter 10 is pretty bad. The transfer was supervised by the great cinematographer, Erwin Hillier, so it's a shame that it isn't cleaner.

Anyway, enough of my tiresome technical nit-picking! IKWIG is one of the Great Films, one of the most beautifully photographed and one of the most moving - it exemplifies why Cinema was invented.

Mark Cousins' documentary itself is very moving. It is testament enough of the film's power that New Yorker editor, Nancy Franklin travelled to Mull to visit the locations and send photos to Micky Powell shortly before he died and they gave him great pleasure. Documentaries on films are seldom as great as this. It seems to have been shot on 16mm - another reason to love it! Ah, the days of documentaries shot on 16mm. Now they're all done on razor-sharp, grainless, over-saturated DV. Fucking 21st Century! #-o
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#25 Post by kinjitsu » Thu Mar 08, 2007 10:17 pm

That greenish tint might be caused by the color settings on your monitor.

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