John Huston – The Dead (1987)
Cast: Anjelica Huston, Donal McCann, Helena Carroll…
Inspired by James Joyce’s ‘The Dubliners,’ this creation by John Huston starring his daughter Angelica in the leading role, focuses on the closing story of the novel. Written almost as an elegy, the story based at the turn of the century illustrates the relationship between, Gretta Conroy and her two aunts by marriage. When the memory of Gretta’s dead lover is conjoured by conversation, she has to explain to her husband that she may have been responsible his death. As the story unfolds, Huston stays faithful to Joyce’s belief that the dead will always influence the living. (screenrush.co.uk)
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“A small, almost perfect, gem” (User Review, 8 April 2007):
So many literary adaptations are disappointments. There are many reasons for that, but usually it is the need to cut down a complex novel to the size of a screenplay. The Dead is unusual – it had to be ‘padded’, as the short story itself is a tiny, relatively short gem. It may in fact be the finest short story in the English language. In beautifully spare language it tells of the realization of Gabriel Conroy that his life, and the lives of so many around him are controlled by memories of the dead. Even his own wife of many years loved a man now dead more than him.
To bring such a short story to the cinema was always going to be tricky. John Huston did a magnificent job. He never gave in to temptation to play it up or use fancy technique to expand on the story. It is simple and true, with outstanding acting. The only slight miss-step is the use of music to accompany the devastating final soliloquy.
It’s rare indeed for a movie version of a literary masterpiece to be itself a masterpiece, but I think it’s fair to use this term for this movie. It’s not a bravura piece of film making, but it is simple and pure – I always think of Ozu’s movies when i think of The Dead, it’s at that level of purity and simplicity and deep wisdom. (imdb.com)
Photo Kelly Katsarou (photographyserved.com)
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