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A Canterbury Tale

From Academic Kids

A Canterbury Tale (1944) is a British film by the film-making team of Powell & Pressburger. The film takes its title from the Canterbury Tales of Geoffrey Chaucer, and uses the theme of medieval pilgrimage to highlight the wartime experiences of the citizens of Kent.

Made in black and white, it was the first of two collaborations between Powell & Pressburger and cinematographer Erwin Hillier. The film is a mixture of British realism and Hillier's German Expressionist style, and is notable for its depiction of the English landscape.

Story

The story concerns three young people: a British soldier, Sergeant Peter Gibbs (Dennis Price), an American soldier, Sergeant Bob Johnson (played by real-life G.I. Sergeant John Sweet), and a 'Land Girl' Miss Alison Smith (Sheila Sim). As the group arrive at the railway station in the fictitious small Kent town of Chillingbourne, late at night, the girl is attacked by a mysterious assailant who pours glue into her hair, before escaping. It transpires that this has happened several times before. The three decide to investigate the attack, enlisting the help of the locals, including several young boys.

They identify the culprit as a local magistrate, Mr Thomas Colpeper (Eric Portman), a gentleman farmer and pillar of the community, who also gives local history lectures to soldiers stationed in the district.

On a train journey to Canterbury a few days later, they find themselves in the same compartment as Mr Colpeper. They confront him with their suspicions, which he doesn't deny, and they discover that his motive is to prevent the soldiers from being distracted by female company.

Meanwhile, their own attitudes to their surroundings are changing. On arriving in the city of Canterbury, devastated by wartime bombing, all three young people witness "miracles" of their own. Miss Smith discovers that her boyfriend, believed killed in the war, has survived after all; Sergeant Johnson receives long-delayed letters from his sweetheart, and Sergeant Gibbs, who was a professional organist before the war, gets to play the large organ at Canterbury Cathederal, before emabarking to join his unit. He decides not to report Mr Colpeper to the Canterbury police, as he had planned.

Production

Notable for its many exterior shots showing the Kent countryside as well as Canterbury itself. Many local people, including a lot of young boys, were recruited as extras.

They weren't able to get permission to film inside the Cathedral itself - so they rebuilt large portions of the Cathedral in the studio.

External links

Template:Powell and Pressburger

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