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Published on Sep 28, 2011
The new BFI restoration of Cavalcanti's 'Went the Day Well' opened 9 July 2010.
Cavalcanti's wartime film, based on a story by Graham Greene, still unsettles, even shocks, with its subversive, almost surreal spectacle of a cosy English village under Nazi attack in the Second World War.
Disguised as British soldiers, the invading Germans insinuate themselves into a pretty village inhabited by British character players so familiar to wartime audiences that they must have seemed like family members. Always the mischievous foreign observer, Cavalcanti kicks away their usual charm, letting them kill and be killed in a violent battle for their green, pleasant land. Critics' reactions at the time were mixed; but now we can properly relish this visionary film, as jolting and quizzical about British life as anything by Powell and Pressburger.
This film screened as part of Long Live Film, a major project celebrating the 75th anniversary of the BFI National Archive. Further information at http://www.bfi.org.uk/archive75