Michael Powell was born in Bekesbourne, Kent, in 1905, the son of a hop farmer, Thomas, and his wife Mabel. Powell enjoyed an upper-class education, starting his career in banking in 1922. However Powell soon realised that he was not cut out for the financial sector and he got his first film industry break in 1925, working odd jobs for various French productions.
Imre József Emmerich Pressburger was born to Jewish parents on December 5th 1902 in Miskolc, northern Hungary. After studying mathematics and engineering at university, Pressburger turned to screenwriting in the late 1920s, working for the legendary UFA in Berlin, but the rise of Nazism forced Pressburger to flee Germany for London in 1935.
It was while working on the 1939 war thriller The Spy in Black that Powell and Pressburger first met, finding in each other the perfect collaborator. The two formed their own production company, The Archers, in 1942, signing all of their films "Written, Produced and Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.?
As The Archers, Powell and Pressburger made 19 feature films, but their eclectic, fantastical narratives and baroque visual style arguably threw them out of step with the critics. It was not until 1978, when the National Film Theatre staged a retrospective of their work, that their reputation as a powerhouse filmmaking duo was revived. Fantasy, roleplay, supernatural elements and spectacle are all stylistic and narrative threads which run through the post-1943 work of The Archers, from the Oscar®-nominated war film One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1942); the comic-strip-based The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943); A Canterbury Tale (1944), with its mix of romanticism, expressionism and melodrama; the romance ?I Know Where I?m Going!? (1945), with its supernatural overtones; psychological drama Black Narcissus (1947) and the Oscar®-winning fantasy-melodrama The Red Shoes (1948).
The Archers? partnership dissolved amicably in 1957, after which Powell directed the reviled (but now celebrated) Peeping Tom. Powell and Pressburger did reunite a few times in the future, for the Australian-made They?re a Weird Mob (1966) and 1972?s The Boy Who Turned Yellow, and they remained the best of friends for the rest of their lives. Pressburger died in his beloved adopted homeland in 1988, with Powell passing away almost exactly two years later.