Close Up

8 - 9 September 2018: Distant Voices: Terence Davies


"A member of the distinctive generation of British Film Institute nurtured directors whose ranks notably included Derek Jarman, Sally Potter and Peter Greenaway, Terence Davies first established himself with three celebrated shorts, known collectively as The Terence Davies Trilogy. Like his trilogy, the subsequent features Distant Voices, Still Lives and The Long Day Closes are also set in postwar England, a dreary land of scarcity and sexual repression which inspires the elemental dichotomy at the heart of Davies’ work, a contrast between the somber outside world of gray, brick and rain and the intimate interior world, whose promise of warmth and camaraderie is tempered by poverty and the threat of violence or isolation. In Davies films escape – from both worlds – is provided by the radio, by the cinema and above all by music.

This is terrain that the Liverpool-born and Catholic-raised Davies knows well, and shapes with a strong autobiographical intimacy of his films. Davies’ work is distinguished by the wonderfully cinematographic qualities of his stories which are told most powerfully not through dialogue but rather through framing, camera movement, lighting and editing. Davies’ style has been called “memory realism”: everyday life is rendered in naturalistic detail colored by or overlaid with fantasy or reminiscence." – David Pendleton

The Terence Davies Trilogy
Terence Davies
1984 | 94 min | B/W | Digital

Davies’ first films were a series of three narrative shorts that collectively construct a portrait of fictional alter ego Robert Tucker, who like Davies is the product of an impoverished Liverpool Catholic family.

Distant Voices, Still Lives
Terence Davies
1988 | 85 min | Colour | Digital

Distant Voices, Still Lives unfolds as a series of tableaux based on moments from Davies’ family life growing up, creating a searingly intimate portrait of working-class Liverpool in the late 1940s and 1950s. Focusing on the real-life experiences of his mother, sisters and brother, Davies presents a household torn apart by a violent father and reunited in their fear and hatred of him.