A Matter of Life and Death

Synopsis: Returning to England from a bombing run in May 1945, flyer Peter Carter's plane is damaged and his parachute ripped to shreds. He has his crew bail out safely, but figures it is curtains for himself. He gets on the radio, and talks to June, a young American woman working for the USAAF, and they are quite moved by each other's voices. Then he jumps, preferring this to burning up with his plane. He wakes up in the surf. It was his time to die, but there was a mixup in heaven. They couldn't find him in all that fog. By the time his "Conductor" catches up with him 20 hours later, Peter and June have met and fallen in love. This changes everything, and since it happened through no fault of his own, Peter figures that heaven owes him a second chance. Heaven agrees to a trial to decide his fate.
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Production: Universal Pictures
  1 win & 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
104 min

This is the universe.

Big, isn't it?

Thousands of suns, millions of stars,...

..separated by immense distances|and by thin floating clouds of gas.

The starlight makes the gas transparent.

Where there are no stars|it appears as dark, obscuring clouds...

..like that great black cone over there.


..there's a nova.

A whole solar system exploded.

Someone must've been messing about|with the uranium atom.

No, it's not our solar system,|I'm glad to say.

Ah, those are called|a globular cluster of stars.

Rather fine.

Down here in the right-hand corner,...

..see that little chap|rather like a boy scout's badge?

It's a mass of gas expanding|at thousands of cubic miles a minute.

Ah, here we are,|we're getting nearer home.

The moon, our moon,...

..in the first quarter,...

..and here's the Earth, our Earth,...

..moving around in its place,...

..part of the pattern, part of the universe.

Reassuring, isn't it?

- (thunder)|- It's night over Europe.

The night of the 2nd May, 1945.

That point of fire is a burning city.

It had a thousand-bomber raid|an hour ago.


And here, rolling in over the Atlantic,...

- (foghorn)|- .. is a real English fog.

I hope all our aircraft got home safely.

- Even the big ships sound frightened.|- (Morse code signals)

Listen to all the noises in the air.

(Churchill on radio)|"This was their finest hour. "

- (German voices on radio)|- Listen...

- Listen...|- (German radio messages)

(woman) "Request your position. "

"Come in, Lancaster.|Come in, Lancaster. "

(man) "Position nil. Repeat, nil.|Age 27. Very important. "

"Education violently interrupted.|Religion - Church of England. "

"Politics - Conservative by nature,|Labour by experience. "

- "What's your name?"|- I cannot read you.

Cannot read you.

Request your position.|Can you see our signals?

"Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,|My staff of faith to walk upon,...

..My scrip of joy, immortal diet,|My bottle of salvation,...

..My gown of glory, hope's true gage,|And thus I'll take my pilgrimage. "

"Sir Walter Raleigh wrote that. "

"I'd rather have written that|than flown through Hitler's legs. "

- (aircraft engine drones)|- I cannot understand you.

Hello, Lancaster. We are sending signals.|Can you see our signals?

Come in, Lancaster. Come in, Lancaster.

But at my back I always hear|Time's wingd chariot hurrying near.

And yonder all before us lie|Deserts of vast eternity.

Andy Marvell. What a marvel!|What's your name?

Are you receiving me?|Repeat, are you receiving me?

Request your position.|Come in, Lancaster.

I can't give you my position.|Instruments gone, crew gone.

Except Bob, my sparks. He's dead.

The rest bailed out on my orders.|Time 03.35. Get that?

Crew bailed out 03.35

"Station - Warrenden.|Bomber Group - A, G."

Station - Warrenden.|Bomber Group - A, Apple, G, George.

They'll be sorry about Bob.|We liked him.

Hello, G, George. Hello, G, George.|Are you all right?

Are you going to try to land?|Do you want a fix?

Name's not G, George, it's P, Peter.|Peter D Carter. D's for David.

Squadron Leader Peter Carter.|Can't land - undercarriage is gone.

I'm bailing out, I'm bailing out.

- "Take a telegram. "|- Received your message.

- We can hear you.|- "Telegram to my mother. "

"Mrs Michael Carter,|88 Hampstead Lane, London Northwest. "

88 Hampstead Lane, London.

Tell her that I love her.

You'll have to write this, but I want her|to know I love her very much.

I've never shown it to her, not really,...

.. but I've loved her always|right up to the end.

"Give my love to my two sisters, too.|Don't forget them. "

Rate this script:5.0 / 1 vote

Michael Powell

Michael Latham Powell (30 September 1905 – 19 February 1990) was an English film director, celebrated for his partnership with Emeric Pressburger. Through their production company "The Archers", they together wrote, produced and directed a series of classic British films, notably 49th Parallel (1941), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), A Matter of Life and Death (1946, also called Stairway to Heaven), Black Narcissus (1947), The Red Shoes (1948), and The Tales of Hoffmann (1951). His later controversial 1960 film Peeping Tom, while today considered a classic, and a contender as the first "slasher", was so vilified on first release that his career was seriously damaged.Many film-makers such as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and George A. Romero have cited Powell as an influence. In 1981, he received the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award along with his partner Pressburger, the highest honour the British Film Academy can give a filmmaker. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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