Randwick Ritz, Sydney:

Sunday May 05

Monday May 06

Lido Cinemas, Melbourne:

Thursday May 09

Sunday May 12

Monday May 13

Rating: G
Duration: 92 minutes
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English and Gaelic
Cast: Wendy Hiller, Roger Livesey, Pamela Brown
Director: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger



My favourite film of all time” - Tilda Swinton

The whole atmosphere of the film is alive with the sounds of whining winds and the crashing of angry waves on the rocky coast, the ghosts of ancient, kilted clansmen standing silent watch over abandoned castles and the skirling of bagpipes.” - New York Times

Cinema Reborn proudly presents the Australian Premiere of the new 4K Ultra High-Definition restoration of Powell & Pressburger’s much-loved Scottish comedy romance.

During World War II, the headstrong and often insufferable 25-year-old Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller) journeys from Manchester to the Isle of Mull in the Scottish Hebrides to marry one of the wealthiest men in England. At Carsaig on Mull, Joan is marooned by a violent storm and is unable to make her wedding day on the neighbouring island of Kiloran. Joan finds herself falling in love with the locals, their culture and with the Laird of Kiloran, Torquil MacNeil (Roger Livesey). There are enormous eagles; even bigger hunting dogs; the dangerous Corryvreckan Whirlpool; phones boxes beside waterfalls that make calls impossible; a host of colourful, eccentric locals; and a song-and-dance Cèilidh for a 60th Wedding Celebration where Joan comes to understand something Torqil has been telling her: “They’re not poor. They just don’t have any money”. Myth, mystery, magic, mysticism, romance and the supernatural forces of land and sea are all to be found here.

Introduced by John McDonald at Ritz Cinemas and Adrian Danks at Lido Cinemas.

Uniquely romantic Powell and Pressburger’s masterpiece.” - Rick Burin 

"You will fall hopelessly in love with the scenery, the island, the sense of life there…think of it as a glorious destination wedding, where you may or may not approve of the marriage, but can thoroughly enjoy the party.” - The Paris Review

It’s all quite beautiful, combining romance, comedy, suspense, and a sense of the supernatural to winning effect.” - Geoff Andrew

A sublime and utterly distinctive comedy.” - The Guardian

By Eloise Ross
Michael Powell (1905-1990) and Emeric Pressburger (1902-1988) were filmmaking partners under the name of their shared production company, The Archers. Although they began their careers separately, each displaying his unique talents – Pressburger as a screenwriter in Berlin and later, having fled the Nazis, in Paris and London, and Powell, chiefly, as a stills photographer working in the British film industry – it is as a pair that they made their most adored works. Their collaborative period began in 1939, with Powell as director and Pressburger as screenwriter for the British submarine drama The Spy in Black, and spanned 33 years to 1972. During that period, they produced 24 films together, including the Australian comedy, They’re A Weird Mob (1966).

Yet it is for the films made during wartime and through the postwar years that they are most well known. With Pressburger’s talent for story and screenwriting and Powell’s aesthetic command of visual dynamics bringing out the best in each other, this period produced their finest works as collaborators.

Among their most beloved films are The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), Black Narcissus (1947), The Red Shoes (1948), and the operatic masterpiece The Tales of Hoffman (1951), all celebrated for their Technicolor flair. The black-and-white romance, I Know Where I’m Going!, famously appreciated by Martin Scorsese, is also on that list. In the second volume of his autobiography, Million-Dollar Movie (he tells a slightly different version in his first volume), Powell remembers writers in the Paramount story department telling him that, whenever they had a ‘spiritual flat’ and needed inspiration, they would watch I Know Where I’m Going! It certainly is one of their best.
‘It’s the sweetest film we ever made,’ wrote Michael Powell in A Life in Movies. Many people would agree. In a short documentary made by Mark Cousins in 1994, included on the film’s Criterion DVD release, Nancy Franklin says, ‘It sounds silly to say it, but I Know Where I’m Going! really did change my life.’ In my opinion, it’s not silly but very nearly the most sensible thing to say in the world. It’s a film so full of pleasures, its character and narrative so urgent and yet its spirit so freewheeling, there are almost no words to adequately describe it.

Perhaps these three words could help: dreams, wind, oceans. Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller) confronts all three of these elements in her journey from Manchester to the Scottish Hebrides to meet the man she loves. I’ve written elsewhere on this film for a Senses of Cinema dossier on nostalgia and the cinema, and in that piece I addressed its appeal with these three subheadings. They are three phenomena that hint at this film’s power over me, and in some ways define the long time I have spent in love with it, but they are not terms that provide any simple answers. What does? The film changed my life, too, and I think that gets across some of its uniquely influential power. Early on in I Know Where I’m Going! – and that exclamation mark in the title is integral to Joan’s impetuous drive, to the film’s forward rush – Joan’s father (George Carney) asks her if she has ever been to the island of Kiloran she’s determined to reach. Joan replies, ‘In my dreams.’ It is a perfect example of the ineffable magic of the cinema.

I Know Where I’m Going! – affectionally condensed to IKWIG on the clapperboards shown during the film’s opening credits sequence – was written quickly and filmed at the end of 1944, when The Archers were stalled by camera shortages during the making of A Matter of Life and Death (1946). These two wartime pictures share more than just the historical coincidences of production. For one thing they are both irrepressibly romantic, and although the story of two people falling in love without realising it is not uncommon, here they are entirely distinct. In the former film, the romance of the lovers, Joan and Torquil (Roger Livesey), is woven into every fabric of every frame, in the warm fog and the singing seals that encircle them, the sound of the gale that surrounds them, in the cigarette that passes between their hands and the dense smoke that draws them together. The latter film has a richness provided by its Three-Strip Technicolor, and although Powell later expressed regret that IKWIG was not filmed in colour, its black-and-white poetry adds a spellbinding allure, leaving room for the potential of the imagination.

When Pressburger initially proposed the story – of a determined woman who wants to go to an island, but when she gets close enough to it she realises she no longer wants to get there – Powell asked him what this character’s initial motivation was. Pressburger gave his now legendary response, ‘Let’s make the film and find out.’ Named for the traditional folk song, sung for the film by members of the Glasgow Orpheus Choir, some of whom appeared in the ceilidh scene (the scene of traditional Scottish music and dancing), I Know Where I’m Going! is as much entwined with its romantic atmosphere as its remote location in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides.

Apparently, it required a lot more work in postproduction than was anticipated. The story was tightened – the film rushes through its opening scenes, as hurried as Joan is to travel by rail and sea to her island, playfully translating her sense of urgency – and some sound and dialogue had to be re-recorded. The memorable sequence where a small boat is nearly pulled into the whirlpool at Corryvreckan was assembled from location and studio footage, including some filmed around the islands of Scarba and Jura. Livesey’s scenes were all filmed at Denham Studios in London, but Wendy Hiller and the rest of the cast, including Livesey’s stand-in, spent time on the Isle of Mull, with the nearby Colonsay representing the unreachable Kiloran. This casting trick, of which Powell and cinematographer Erwin Hillier were rightfully proud, was worked around with the edit.

Over the years I have shown this film to people – some cinephiles, some not – who started off wary, whether unused to a 1940s style or put off by what might seem like a stuffiness. Each time, my viewing partner has been won over by its easy charm. Like the film’s lovers they too were falling in love without realising it.
Restored by the BFI National Archive and the Film Foundation in association with ITV. Restoration funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation. Additional support provided by Matt Spick.

Directors, Producers and Script: Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger; Production Company: The Archers; Photography: Erwin Hillier; Editor: John Seabourne; Production Design & Art Direction: Alfred Junge; Sound: C C Stevens, T Bagley; Music: Allan Gray.

Cast: Wendy Hiller (Joan Webster), Roger Livesey (Torquil MacNeil), Pamela Brown (Catriona Potts), Finlay Currie (Ruairidh Móhr), Duncan MacKechnie (Captain of Lochinvar), George Carney (Mr Webster).

United Kingdom | 1945 | 92 mins | 4K DCP | B&W| English| PG.

Cinema Reborn acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we live, learn and work. We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend this respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People.