A Canterbury Tale


Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s nimble and very English 1944 film A Canterbury Tale was butchered for American release (it flopped in Europe), with 20 minutes cut and a new prologue added that rendered the film virtually nonsensical. This Criterion edition marks the first time the original version has been released for American DVD. The film works on a variety of levels: It’s a charming small-town mystery, a handsomely shot elegy for the English countryside, a touching tale of blessings and penance on the road to Canterbury Cathedral, and a homage to Chaucer’s pilgrims. At the center is an engaging human story about the destabilizing effects of World War II, which has made modern-day pilgrims out of a British soldier, an out-of-work “land girl” and an American GI on furlough.