I was delighted to find the neglected gem “Stairway to Heaven” (sometimes known as “A Matter of Life and Death”) available on Hulu. Fans of classic movies and spiritual themes should be sure to take a look.
It is a 1946 British film starring David Niven about a WWII pilot who saves his crew and then, realizing that his plane cannot make it back, and with his parachute destroyed, leaps from theplane, preferring to die by falling than in flames. But because his “guide” from the other world does not pick him up, he is caught between this world and the next.
The story works on two levels; you can see it as a literal struggle between heaven and earth or you can see it as a metaphor for what is going on internally as he struggles to recover from a head injury. On both levels, the strongest tie he has to life is the connection he made in a brief conversation with an American military radio operator (Kim Hunter) just before jumping.
This is a beautiful and deeply moving film and very resonant with the themes of “The Adjustment Bureau,” opening next month, inspired by a story by Philp K. Dick.