Emeric Pressburger wrote a letter to persuade Deborah Kerr to appear in “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp” (1943). Thank God, he succeeded. In the letter he laid out a “manifesto” for The Archers, the name he and Michael Powell gave to their long collaboration.
“The Archers Manifesto”
- One, we owe allegiance to nobody except the financial interests which provide our money; and, to them, the sole responsibility of ensuring them a profit, not a loss.
- Two, every single foot in our films is our own responsibility and nobody else’s. We refuse to be guided or coerced by any influence but our own judgement.
- Three, when we start work on a new idea we must be a year ahead, not only of our competitors, but also of the times. A real film, from idea to universal release, takes a year. Or more.
- Four, no artist believes in escapism. And we secretly believe that no audience does. We have proved, at any rate, that they will pay to see the truth, for other reasons than her nakedness.
- Five, at any time, and particularly at the present, the self respect of all collaborators, from star to prop-man, is sustained, or diminished, by the theme and purpose of the film they are working on. They will fight or intrigue to work on a subject they feel is urgent or contemporary, and fight equally hard to avoid working on a trivial or pointless subject. And we agree with them and want the best workmen with us; and get them. These are the main things we believe in. They have brought us an unbroken record of success and a unique position. Without the one, of course, we should not enjoy the other very long. We are under no illusions. We know we are surrounded by hungry sharks. But you have no idea what fun it is surf-bathing, if you have only paddled, with a nurse holding on to the back of your rompers.
We hope you will come on in, the water’s fine.
Check out the Michael Powell / Emeric Pressburger fan and scholarship site Powell-Pressburger.org, which features this manifesto as well as a wealth of info and links re The Archers and their films.