Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How Is A Man's Life Measured? (Colonel Blimp, 1943)

#91-- The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is probably the worst misnomer of a movie ever.  The main character—frankly no character—is called Colonel Blimp.  The main character is actually a Major General, not a Colonel.   And the main character (minor spoiler, here) doesn’t die.   So there is no death.  But there is a life.

When we first see Major General Clive Wynne-Candy, he is outmaneuvered by a younger commander, who sees Major General Candy as a buffoon, much like the Colonel Blimp comic books the movie is named after.  He sees him as stuck in foolish traditions and policies, a glutton and simple-minded: unworthy to command any armed forces.   The Major General claims that the young lieutenant has no right to judge him for he knows nothing about him.

As the movie continues on in flashback, we find this is true.  Candy proved himself not only able, but noble through many armed conflicts.  His closest friend was a German enemy, and he proved his worth in his noble dealings with his life-long love.   “Colonel Blimp” was nothing of the kind, and his upstanding, often humorous life is given depth and power in this film.

How often do we judge people by one event, even by a glance?  How often do we see a shallow character, a narrow mind, a limited experience?  While there may be narrow minds, there are no shallow characters.  Every life has experience and power, nobility and weakness,  love and impatience.  We can judge no one, and for every weak or evil person, we must look deeper to find the nobility that lies there as well. 

Fun Fact: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, known as The Archers, were the directors of Colonel Blimp and they directed almost 20 films together, the best of which were completely iconic and the storytelling unique.  Among their films are The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, A Matter of Life and Death and A Canterbury Tale.  I recommend them all. 


  1. I didn't realize what this movie was about. It looks exactly like something I would love. Thanks!

  2. The only Powell/Pressburger film I have seen is 'The Red Shoes', and it's in my top 100. I seriously do not know what's wrong with me.

  3. Really, so many people haven't seen this film. I encourage everyone to see it. It is the very best bio-pic ever and it has a number of wonderful surprises. Please watch it!

    (Steven, I was going to ask what was wrong with you, but since you don't know, I won't :)