84 mins, UK, 1988, Digital

This film was released 7th September 2018, and is no longer screening.

A fractured, non-linear mosaic of images and song, Terence Davies’s masterful, partly autobiographical début feature remains a unique experience and one of the finest cinematic evocations of memory. The film is separated into two distinct parts, ‘Distant Voices’ and ‘Still Lives’, shot two years apart.

The first chronicles a working class family in wartime Liverpool, living under a domineering and violent father (unforgettably played by Pete Postlethwaite), while the second sees the children grown into young adults with a measure of optimism for the future, yet destined to repeat the cycles of behaviour learnt in childhood.

Of the many stylistic innovations, Davies’s use of music in lieu of dialogue is especially memorable, as the grim realities of life are ironically juxtaposed with the cheerful melodies of popular songs.

(Notes by David O’Mahony.)

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