POP ART: Episode 79, Jacob's Ladder/Stairway to Heaven

Howard Casner • May 3, 2022

WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE:  Join filmmaker Nicole Jones-Dion, one of the winners of the Fox Writers Incubator Program, as we discuss two films about people caught between life and death-the horror/thriller Jacob’s Ladder and the romantic fantasy A Matter of Life and Death, aka Stairway to Heaven.

“Jake. New York is filled with creatures”. Don’t you hate when this happens? You’re dead. No, you’re still alive. No, you’re dead. No, you’re alive. No, you’re…Sounds like it’s time for Episode 79 of Pop Art, where we find the pop culture in art and the art in pop culture. It’s the podcast where my guest chooses a movie from popular culture, and I’ll select a film from the more art/classic/indie side of cinema with a connection to it. Today, I am happy to welcome as my guest, filmmaker Nicole Jones-Dion, who has selected, as her choice, the Adrian Lyne/Bruce Joel Rubin expressionistic thriller Jacob’s Ladder, while I have chosen Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s epic fantasy A Matter of Life and Death, aka Stairway to Heaven, both films about characters caught between life and death.  

And in this episode we answer such questions as: Why do these sorts of films fascinate people? Why did Lyne change the location of the courtroom scene between Tim Robbins and Jason Alexander from a hallway to a stairwell? What was the original purpose in making A Matter of Life and Death? What is the major difference between Lyne’s vision and Rubin’s vision of Jacob’s Ladder? Why was the title A Matter of Life and Death changed to Stairway to Heaven in the US? Why did Rubin do that sent him on a spiritual quest and led him to write about these themes of life and death? How does WWII and Viet Nan play into the two films? How does Planet of the Apes fit in? The Tibetan Book of the Dead? On what day did they begin filming A Matter of Life and Death and what is its significance? Who is Tom Rolf and why is he the unsung hero of Jacob’s Ladder? How do the James Bond films fit in? What does the title Jacob’s Ladder refer to? Who is Jezebel?