The Long Day Closes (UK, 1992)

Watching the past

Watching the past

Terence Davies certainly knows how to frame and edit scenes to signify ‘memory’. It’s the elision time, Bud enters a cinema then seconds later of screen time the crowds teem out at teh end of the screening, and expressionist framing, such as the overhead shots in church, that emphasise the subjectivity of what’s being represented. Clearly the music will also evoke powerful emotions in those who remember the 1950s.

It is certainly a decade I’m glad I avoided (just) but there’s no doubting the warmth of the community (rose-tinted Terence?), Edna and Curly are archetypal witty, sharp-mouthed scousers, but Bud’s loneliness (as a nascent homosexual) is palpably presented.

The evocation of the era is terrific, the lighting and colour palette – not to mention the set design – reek authenticity. The realist presentation of everyday life is counterpointed by the stylised film form (coal delivered to a cellar looks – and sounds – stunning) demand that the word ‘poetry’ be used. It is lamentable that Davies has only been able to make a few films in his career.

As a teacher I wonder what Ofsted would have made of the lessons: how did this generation get an education?! There’s an excellent article on Davies’ work here.

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