What Men Live By  [DVD]Esmond Knight (actor)
Eliot Makeham (actor)
Format: all-region dvd (worldwide)
Runtime: 39 min
Quality: Very Good, b/w, 4:3
From a Tolstoy short story, transferred to post-Napoleonic England, this is a simple, sweet moral fable. The milieu is one of decent, ordinary people, struggling to survive, not overly bothered about man- made laws (at least as far as a bit of smuggling is concerned), but buoyed up by unquestioned religious faith.
Into their lives comes a fallen angel, temporarily exiled for disobedience and sent to learn the answers to three questions about the human condition. The acting is excellent, in the theatrical style of the time, but not over-stated. There is a very effective contrast between the naturalistic dialogue of the ordinary people (well done, considering it originates in a Russian short story), and the limited speech and affect of the angel, until his final long declamatory speech.