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Return to the Edge of the World (1978)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Return to the Edge of the World (1978)
BBC/Michael Powell Productions/Poseidon Films, tx. 7/5/1979
25 minutes, colour
DirectorMichael Powell
ProducerSydney S. Streeter

Cast: Michael Powell, John Laurie (on-screen participants)

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Director Michael Powell, actor John Laurie and assistant Sydney Streeter return to the isle of Foula, on which they made the film The Edge of the World over forty years earlier.

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Michael Powell always considered The Edge of the World to be his first truly personal film, even to the extent of keeping the rights to it. However, after its initial trade screening in 1937, the film was cut by seven minutes for a general release length of 74 minutes. In 1940, when it was re-released, the film was cut by a further twelve minutes, and for decades this was the only version available.

It was partly for this reason that Powell decided to make a two-part television documentary that would be used to bookend screenings of this shorter version. The resulting 22-minute film, Return to the Edge of the World shows Powell, star John Laurie and production assistant Sydney Streeter returning to Foula and meeting the inhabitants on the island.

Both a reflection on, and an epilogue to The Edge of the World, it celebrates both the specific hardships endured in 1936 while making the film, and life on the island in general. In 1989/90 the National Film and Television Archive restored the film to its general release length of 74 minutes.

Sergio Angelini

*This film is included in the BFI DVD of 'The Edge of the World'.

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (22:43)
Edge of the World, The (1937)
Laurie, John (1897-1980)
Late Powell and Pressburger
Powell and Landscape