Exploring Powell and Pressburger’s I Know Where I’m Going!

I Know WHere I'm Going
Share this Article:

As the BFI’s Cinema Unbound season continues to shed light on the films of Powell and Pressburger, we take a closer look at I Know Where I’m Going!

Powell and Pressburger are best known for their exquisite and stunning romantic pieces that are bolstered by sumptuous visuals and stunning scripts. Movies such as The Red Shoes (1948), Black Narcisuss (1947), and A Matter Of Life And Death (1946) are indelible, and it’s no wonder that they’re often listed among the best films of all time.

However, there’s one film that is often erroneously missed. A film so striking and so wickedly smart that it’s impossible not to fall in love with.

I Know Where I’m Going! (1945) is possibly one of the most captivating romantic comedies of its era, and deserves to be celebrated more widely. Starring Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey, its story revolves around Joan, a young woman sent to the Scottish Hebrides to marry a wealthy industrialist. Left stuck by the bad weather, and charmed by the local islanders, she finds herself attracted to a mysterious naval officer.

Cinematographer Erwin Hillier is a genius in his craft, and his striking artistic eye lends itself well to the rolling natural landscape of the Isle of Mull, where it was filmed. I wrote last week about how Hillier does an outstanding job of capturing the wild weather of the island, yet it bears repeating. There isn’t one frame of this movie that isn’t utterly beautiful. Moments where shadow and light form patterns so lusciously against the hills are just insanely gorgeous.

Read More: Exploring the lesser-known films of Powell and Pressburger

Filming on the Isle and in Denham Studios, Hillier used a replica whirlpool and models to produce complex close-up scenes of scuttling, rocking boats on unforgiving waves. Hillier also threw water on the cast and added gelatin to the water to help it hold its shape. It’s incredible that some of these shots aren’t of a real boat battling with the waves – the effect really is that convincing.

As marvellous a photographer as Hillier is (and trust me, he’s perfection) I Know Where I’m Going! has an absolute gem of a script, also by Powell and Pressburger. Unfolding the romance deftly through the scenes while never taking away from Joan’s headstrong persona, the screenplay is both whimsical and witty. Thanks to Wendy Hiller’s incredible performance, which breathes extra life into the already likeable dialogue, I Know Where I’m Going! is a provocative and heart-warming film that delves under the skin of what makes us all human. And what makes us all human is love.

I Know Where I’m Going! makes Britain feel magical – it’s an ode to our gorgeous countryside. An absolute masterpiece, the film is the perfect blend of artists working together to an astonishing effect. Ground-breaking, it still holds up against a backdrop of modern romantic comedies and critical darlings.

The film is playing as part of the BFI’s Cinema Unbound season. It’s crucial you see it on the biggest screen possible.

Thank you for visiting! If you’d like to support our attempts to make a non-clickbaity movie website:

Follow Film Stories on Twitter here, and on Facebook here.

Buy our Film Stories and Film Junior print magazines here.

Become a Patron here.

Share this Article:

More like this