Rose Reid

Written by Rose Reid

Modified & Updated: 02 Jun 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


A Canterbury Tale is a highly acclaimed movie that was released in 1944. Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, this British film is a unique blend of genres, combining elements of drama, mystery, and comedy. Set against the backdrop of World War II, the film tells the story of three individuals who find themselves on a journey to the historic city of Canterbury. As they navigate their way through the challenges and quirks of village life, they also stumble upon a series of mysterious happenings that need to be unraveled. A Canterbury Tale is not only known for its captivating narrative and exceptional performances but also for its stunning cinematography and beautiful scenery. In this article, we will delve deeper into this extraordinary film by uncovering 50 fascinating facts that you may not know. Get ready to embark on an enchanting journey into the world of A Canterbury Tale.

Key Takeaways:

  • A Canterbury Tale is a unique British film set during World War II, blending mystery, romance, and comedy. It showcases the beauty of England and celebrates the power of storytelling to connect people.
  • The movie draws inspiration from Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales and explores themes of love, sacrifice, and resilience. It has left a lasting cultural legacy and continues to inspire audiences worldwide.
Table of Contents

Unique Setting

A Canterbury Tale, released in 1944, is a British film directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. It is set in England during World War II.

Inspirational Source

The script for A Canterbury Tale was inspired by Chaucer’s famous literary work, The Canterbury Tales, written in the 14th century.

Critically Acclaimed

The film received positive reviews from critics and audiences alike, earning praise for its innovative storytelling and beautiful cinematography.

A Tale of Pilgrimage

A Canterbury Tale follows the journey of three characters who meet by chance and embark on a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral.

Unconventional Genre

The movie combines elements of mystery, romance, and comedy, making it a unique blend of genres.

Atmospheric Cinematography

The film is known for its stunning visuals, capturing the beauty of the English countryside and historic landmarks.

The Land Girl

One of the main characters in the movie is a “Land Girl,” a woman who worked in agriculture during the war effort.

The Town Crier

Another central character is a town crier who wears traditional medieval clothing and informs the community about local events.

Mystery and Suspense

A Canterbury Tale incorporates elements of mystery and suspense, as the characters try to uncover the identity of the “glue man.


The “glue man” is a mysterious figure who pours glue into women’s hair as they walk under the archway of a local landmark.

Mythical Connections

Throughout the film, there are references to ancient myths and legends, creating a sense of magical realism.

Poignant Messages

A Canterbury Tale explores themes of community, sacrifice, and the power of storytelling to connect people across time and space.

Mixing Past and Present

The movie cleverly blends the medieval setting of Chaucer’s time with the contemporary world of World War II England.

Ensemble Cast

The film features a talented ensemble cast, including Sheila Sim, Dennis Price, and Eric Portman.

Realistic Characters

The characters in A Canterbury Tale are complex and relatable, each with their own personal struggles and desires.

Symbolic Motifs

The movie utilizes symbolic motifs, such as the Canterbury bell flower, to represent the transformative power of the pilgrimage.

Historical Significance

A Canterbury Tale offers a glimpse into the social and cultural landscape of wartime England, capturing the spirit of the era.

Moral Dilemmas

The characters in the film are faced with moral dilemmas and must make choices that will impact their own lives and the lives of others.

Beautiful Soundtrack

The film’s soundtrack, composed by Allan Gray, adds depth and emotion to the story, enhancing the viewing experience.

Pioneering Filmmakers

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, also known as “The Archers,” were renowned for their innovative approach to filmmaking.

Historic Canterbury

The film showcases the picturesque town of Canterbury, famous for its medieval architecture and the iconic Canterbury Cathedral.

Reverence for Nature

A Canterbury Tale highlights the beauty of the English countryside, emphasizing the importance of preserving nature’s wonders.

Timeless Themes

The movie explores universal themes of love, friendship, and self-discovery that resonate with audiences across generations.

Cultural Homage

A Canterbury Tale pays homage to English heritage and traditions, celebrating the rich tapestry of the country’s culture.

Quirky Humor

The film incorporates moments of lighthearted humor, providing comic relief amidst the wartime setting.

Resilient Characters

The characters in A Canterbury Tale display resilience and determination in the face of adversity, inspiring viewers with their courage.

Thought-Provoking Dialogue

The script is filled with thought-provoking dialogue that encourages contemplation about life, purpose, and the human condition.

Interconnected Narratives

The movie weaves together the individual stories of the three main characters, showcasing the power of human connections.

Evocative Imagery

The film’s imagery is striking and evocative, transporting viewers into a world filled with beauty, intrigue, and mystery.

Historical Accuracy

A Canterbury Tale is meticulously researched, accurately depicting the period and its historical context.

Celebrated Collaboration

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s partnership resulted in numerous acclaimed films, solidifying their place in cinematic history.

Inspirational Female Characters

The women in the film are portrayed as strong, independent, and resourceful, challenging traditional gender roles.

Film Restoration

A Canterbury Tale underwent a meticulous restoration process to preserve the film’s original quality for future generations.

International Success

The movie received international recognition and was praised for its artistic merit beyond British shores.

Quintessential British Cinema

A Canterbury Tale is often regarded as a quintessential example of British cinema, representing the unique filmmaking style of Powell and Pressburger.

Literary Influences

Aside from Chaucer, the film also draws inspiration from other classic literature, further enriching its narrative depth.

Exploration of Identity

The characters in the film embark on a journey of self-discovery, grappling with questions of identity and purpose.

Timeless Elegance

The film’s visual style and storytelling approach have stood the test of time, remaining relevant and captivating to this day.

Aesthetic Allure

A Canterbury Tale is visually captivating, immersing viewers in a world of beauty, charm, and intrigue.

Source of Inspiration

Many filmmakers and artists have cited A Canterbury Tale as a source of inspiration for their own works.

Historical Context

The film provides a glimpse into the daily lives of people during wartime, capturing the struggles and triumphs of the era.

Imagination Unleashed

A Canterbury Tale sparks the viewers’ imagination, transporting them to a world filled with wonder and possibility.

Cultural Legacy

The movie has left a lasting cultural legacy, being recognized as a significant contribution to the world of cinema.

Pursuit of Dreams

The characters in A Canterbury Tale strive to fulfill their dreams and aspirations, defying societal expectations.

Cinematic Poetry

A Canterbury Tale is often described as a visual poem, with every frame meticulously composed and visually stunning.

Powerful Symbolism

The film’s use of symbolism adds depth and layers of meaning to the narrative, engaging viewers on multiple levels.

Emotional Resonance

A Canterbury Tale elicits a range of emotions in its viewers, from laughter and joy to contemplation and introspection.

Universal Appeal

While rooted in English culture and history, A Canterbury Tale transcends borders, resonating with audiences worldwide.

Time Capsule

The film serves as a time capsule, preserving the essence of a bygone era and allowing us to glimpse the past.

Enduring Relevance

A Canterbury Tale continues to captivate and inspire audiences, reminding us of the power of storytelling and the enduring nature of great cinema.


In conclusion, A Canterbury Tale is a captivating movie that combines elements of mystery, romance, and adventure. Its unique setting and deep character development make it a stand-out film in the world of cinema. Whether you’re a fan of classic movies or simply enjoy a well-made story, A Canterbury Tale is definitely worth watching.


Q: When was A Canterbury Tale released?

A: A Canterbury Tale was released in 1944.

Q: Who directed A Canterbury Tale?

A: The movie was directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

Q: What is the movie about?

A: A Canterbury Tale follows the journey of three individuals who find themselves in the English town of Canterbury during World War II. They face a series of mysterious events and ultimately discover the power of unity and redemption.

Q: Is A Canterbury Tale based on a book?

A: No, the movie is not based on a book. It was an original screenplay written by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

Q: Can you provide a brief overview of the main characters?

A: The main characters include a British soldier named Sergeant Peter Gibbs, an American army sergeant named Bob Johnson, and a Land Girl named Alison Smith. They embark on a quest to unravel the mystery behind the “glueman” who pours glue in the hair of young women in the town.

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