Phantom threads: original costume designs for A Matter of Life and Death

Costume designs for this world and the next by Hein Heckroth for Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s immortal fantasy A Matter of Life and Death.

8 December 2017

A Matter of Life and Death (1946) costume design
BFI Special Collections

Costume designer Hein Heckroth’s original watercolour design for the airman jacket and overalls worn by pilot Peter Carter (David Niven) in the opening scenes on the beach.

A Matter of Life and Death (1946)

The resulting uniform modelled by David Niven in A Matter of Life and Death (1946).

A Matter of Life and Death (1946)

Niven wearing the airman jacket.

A Matter of Life and Death (1946) costume design
BFI Special Collections

The design for the outfit that Carter is wearing when he finds himself on the stairway to heaven.

A Matter of Life and Death (1946) costume design
BFI Special Collections

Heckroth’s design for the 18th-century garb worn by Conductor 71, the heavenly agent (and former French aristocrat) who collects Carter to escort him to heaven.

A Matter of Life and Death (1946)

Marius Goring playing Conductor 71.

A Matter of Life and Death (1946) costume design
BFI Special Collections

The design for a suit and overcoat worn by Dr Frank Reeves, the physician whose help June (Kim Hunter) calls upon to advise on Carter’s apparent concussion.

A Matter of Life and Death (1946)

Roger Livesey playing Dr Reeves, as he finds himself defending Carter’s right to continue living in a heavenly court.

A Matter of Life and Death (1946) costume design
BFI Special Collections

How Heckroth imagined the judge’s outfit.

A Matter of Life and Death (1946)

Abraham Sofaer playing the judge who holds Carter’s fate in his hands.

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