Scorsese describes love for British film pioneers Powell and Pressburger in new documentary

In a quintessentially English village, in a quiet corner of a cemetery is the grave of man responsible for some of the most famous films in British cinema.

The films like The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp and Matter of Life and Death are described by the British Film Institute as capturing the essence of Britishness.

But one half of the team responsible for those film was in fact not British at all, but a Hungarian emigré fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe.

Aspall in Suffolk is the last resting place of Emeric Pressburger - one half of a team who produced classic movies such as A Matter of Life and Death and Black Narcissus.

Pressburger was a novelist and screenwriter, who alongside Michael Powell, created movies that would inspire generations of film directors.

Emeric Pressburger's grave lies in St Mary of Grace churchyard Credit:

One of those is Oscar-winner Martin Scorsese. The Goodfellas helmer has narrated a new documentary exploring the genius behind the duo, whose body of work has been a “constant source of energy”.

The Bafta and Academy Award-winning director, 79, will reveal how their work helped shape his own filmmaking, having been captivated from a young age.

It features rare archive material from the personal collections of Powell, Pressburger and Scorsese – including diary entries, home movies, personal snapshots and audio recordings.

Scorsese, who also served as an executive producer on the film, said: “I still find it extraordinary I knew Michael Powell personally for 16 years and throughout that time he was not only a support, but a guide, pushing me along, giving me confidence, keeping me bold in my own work.

“I’ve seen the films that he made with Emeric over and over again but the experience of excitement and mystery that I get from them doesn’t just remain, it deepens.

“I don’t know how it happens but for me their body of work is a wondrous presence, a constant source of energy, and a reminder of what life and art are all about.”

Pressburger had worked in European film before the war, but wound up in the relative safety of London.

He spoke little English, and taught himself the language and studied the country he found himself in.

He spent the last years of his life living in Saxtead, near Stowmarket. He died in 1988.

The personal and moving look at two of British cinema’s greatest filmmakers will be directed by two-time Bafta winner David Hinton, who described it as a “dream project”.

Hinton said: “There’s no British films that I admire more than those of Powell and Pressburger, and working with Michael Powell in the 1980s was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my professional life.

“On top of that, there’s no living filmmaker that I admire more than Martin Scorsese, and no one speaks about Powell and Pressburger with more passion, conviction and insight.

“When you put that together with all the magical archive material that we’ve found, you can see why this is a dream project for me.”

Powell and Pressburger directed films during the golden age of British cinema, including The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, A Matter Of Life And Death, and The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp.

Scorsese said their films were “grand, poetic, wise, adventurous, headstrong, enraptured by beauty, deeply romantic, and completely uncompromising”.

The documentary is produced by Nick Varley and backed by the BBC, which is funding the film alongside the National Lottery and Scottish Government through Screen Scotland.

Unscripted - Listen to the ITV News Arts and Entertainment podcast