Produced in the aftermath of the Second World War, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death (1946) stars David Niven as an RAF pilot poised between life and death, his love for the American radio operator June (Kim Hunter) threatened by medical, political and ultimately celestial forces. The film is a magical, profound fantasy and a moving evocation of English history and the wartime experience, with virtuoso Technicolor special effects. In the United States it was released under the title Stairway to Heaven, referencing one of its most famous images, a moving stairway between earth and the afterlife.Ian Christie’s study of the film shows how its creators drew upon many sources and traditions to create a unique form of modern masque, treating contemporary issues with witty allegory and enormous visual imagination. He stresses the teamwork of Powell and Pressburger’s gifted collaborators, among them Director of Photography Jack Cardiff, production designer Alfred Junge, and costume designer Hein Heckroth, and explores the history of both British and international responses to the film. Christie argues that the film deserves to be thought of as one of the greatest achievements of British cinema, but of all cinema.