Very nearly plotless, this 1944 film by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger represents one of the few times the narrative cinema has approached the lyrical ideal. Crossing wartime Britain, a group of travelers—including an American GI, a young woman from London, and an English officer—linger in a small farming village, ostensibly to solve a peculiar mystery (someone is putting glue in the local girls' hair), but really because of the spell (quite literal, in P and P's mystical vision) cast upon them by the countryside. Over the hill lies Canterbury Cathedral, and as parallels begin to emerge with Chaucer's pilgrims, the characters find themselves being drawn to it, for a soft-pedaled climax that represents the fulfillment of their individual quests. Strange and wonderful. With Eric Portman, Sheila Sim, John Sweet, and Dennis Price. 124 min.
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