The Edge of the World

Inhabitants of a remote island find their way of life threatened by a rapidly industrialising world.

“I don’t think I shall ever make another film, however good it may turn out to be, that will mean as much to me as The Edge of the World.” Michael Powell, BBC Radio, Desert Island Discs, 1942

Shot over four arduous months in the wild, windswept Shetland Islands, Michael Powell’s first independent production establishes the daring techniques and experimentation that would later become familiar hallmarks of his career.

The Edge of the World tells the moving story of a remote island and its inhabitants, whose traditions and way of life are threatened by a rapidly industrialising world. To settle an argument over whether the islanders should give up their livelihood and move to the mainland, two childhood friends follow an ancient tradition and climb the island’s highest cliff face. The outcome shatters the island’s peace and splits the two clans apart.

Restored by the BFI National Archive in 1990 and with its picture and sound further restored for this DVD release, The Edge of the World has been admired by directors such as Martin Scorsese.

Making the film proved so demanding and sensational that its 32-year-old director was moved to write a full-scale book about his obsession with the tragic grandeur of Scotland’s Outer Isles and his struggle to film it, 200,000 Feet on Foula, which actor Daniel Day-Lewis reads from on this DVD.

Special features

  • Daniel Day-Lewis reads extracts from 200,000 Feet on Foula.
  • Commentary featuring Thelma Schoonmaker (Michael Powell’s widow, who is also Martin Scorsese’s editor) and film critic Ian Christie.
  • Michael Powell’s home movies.
  • Documentary: Return to the Edge of the World (1978).
  • Travelogue: St Kilda - Britain’s Loneliest Isle (1928).
  • Biographies of Michael Powell and producer Joe Rock.
  • Stills gallery.

Product information

    • Certificate

      U

    • Colour

      Black/white

    • Sound

      Sound

    • Running time

      75mins

    • Subtitles

      English for the hard-of-hearing

    • Original aspect ratio

      1.33:1

    • DVD region

      • 2 Europe (except Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories

    • Catalogue number

      BFIVD589

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