This sublime adaptation of the last story in James Joyce's Dubliners is John Huston's final film, and it is as beautiful, delicate, and moving an epitaph as any filmmaker could ever desire.
Set in Dublin on the chilly night of January 6, 1904, the feast of the Epiphany, THE DEAD takes place at the home of spinsters Kate (Helena Carroll) and Julia Morkan (Cathleen Delany) during their annual post-holidays party. Their favorite guests are their sophisticated nephew, Gabriel Conroy
(Donal McCann), and his beautiful wife, Gretta (Anjelica Huston). After most of the revelers have left, Gretta is struck by the haunting rendition of "The Lass of Aughrim" sung by one of the guests. On the cab ride back to their hotel, Gretta is distant, lost in her thoughts. In their room, a
tearful Gretta confesses to Gabriel that the song has stirred long-suppressed memories of a brief and tragic romance from her youth. After hearing her story, Gabriel marvels at the power that the dead hold over the living.
THE DEAD is a breathtakingly beautiful movie, a mature work of a master filmmaker. Huston, a lifelong admirer of Joyce, had wanted to make a film adaptation of "The Dead" since the 1950s, but put the idea on the back burner because of its uncommercial nature. When producer Wieland Schulz-Keil
decided the time was right, he hired Huston's eldest son, Tony, to write the screenplay, which is scrupulously faithful to Joyce. The casting is marvelous, and Huston allows all his performers equal screen time until the end when Anjelica Huston and McCann become the focus. The party scene is a
flurry of detailed movement, wonderfully choreographed. Huston concentrates on the interaction of the characters--the conversations, the movements, the rituals--and glories in the nuances of human behavior.
The film's most powerful sequence, however, is the scene between husband and wife. Anjelica Huston is superb, striking the perfect balance of emotions. It is a performance of grace and eloquence. Equally excellent is McCann, who somehow manages to convey with a minimum of visible acting the
dawning self-awareness described by Joyce. THE DEAD was made by a man who had a deep appreciation for all the arts and how they enrich the human experience.
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- Released: 1987
- Rating: PG
- Review: This sublime adaptation of the last story in James Joyce's Dubliners is John Huston's final film, and it is as beautiful, delicate, and moving an epitaph as any filmmaker could ever desire. Set in Dublin on the chilly night of January 6, 1904, the feast o… (more)