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Long Day’s Journey into Night

To coincide with the Eugene O’Neill Symposium at the Samuel Beckett Centre in Trinity College, the Irish Film Archive is pleased to present the most recent film version of O’Neill’s masterpiece. Set in a small Connecticut summer house in August 1912, this unflinching portrait of the author’s own family unfolds over the courseof a single day, as the Irish-American Tyrones confront their oldest, most haunting secrets. James Tyrone (William Hutt), the master of the household, is shown to be an unconscionable miser, reluctant even to pay for his consumptive son Edmund’s medical treatment. Edmund (Tom McCamus), the O’Neill doppelganger, coughs and drinks his way through much of the day. Jamie (Peter Donaldson), the alcoholic older son, confesses his desire to drag Edmund with him. Mary (Martha Henry), the morphine addicted mother, hovers through the proceedings like a ghost, finally drifting into a drug-induced, nostalgic haze.
At the centre of the maelstrom of blame, condemnation, anger and self-deceit we see moments of incredible compassion, pity and love. This is tragedy of the highest order, and director David Wellington does the piece full justice with the aide of a superb cast (Martha Henry’s performance as Mary must count as one of the finest ever) drawn from a revered production staged at Canada’s Stratford Festival. (Canada, 1996. Colour. Anamorphic. Dolby stereo SR. 174 mins.)

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