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Dead, The

Director: John Huston


Dublin , 1904. As they have done for years, friends congregate at a New Year party of the Miss Morkens. There is a sense of expectation but also an undercurrent of tension, principally on account of one of the guests, Freddie Malins (Donal Donnelly), who might be drunk and difficult to contol. Gradually it becomes clear that the faint sense of disharmony is coming from another source entirely: the seemingly magnetic remembrance of things past (particularlty singers of the past) which is stealing sadly over all the main characters. Everything will gather to the crucial moment when Gretta (Angelica Huston), watched uncomprehendingly by her husband Gabriel (Donal McCann), stops on the stairs to listen to a song, distant music from long ago that will stir up anguised longings she had thought forgotten.
It is a compassionate study of human frality, of heroines with secret sides to their characters, of heroes who are outwardly secure but inwardly self-doubting, and of a life whose disappointments and disillusionments have to be met with bravery and with generosity. The Dead was a family affair: Huston’s daugher Angelica playing, most beautifully, the leading role; his sone Tony adapting, most imaginatively, the short story. My children are doing me proud, said Huston at the time. It should be added that he, more than any other filmmaker, has done James Joyce proud.

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