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Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988)

PG-13 | | Drama, Music | 16 November 1988 (France)
Trailer
1:34 | Trailer
The lives of an English working-class family are told out of order in a free-associative manner. The first part, "Distant Voices", focuses on the father's role in the family. The second part, "Still Lives", focuses on his children.

Director:

Terence Davies

Writer:

Terence Davies
10 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Freda Dowie ... Mother
Pete Postlethwaite ... Father
Angela Walsh Angela Walsh ... Eileen
Dean Williams Dean Williams ... Tony
Lorraine Ashbourne ... Maisie
Sally Davies Sally Davies ... Eileen as a Child
Nathan Walsh Nathan Walsh ... Tony as a Child
Susan Flanagan ... Maisie as a Child
Michael Starke Michael Starke ... Dave
Vincent Maguire Vincent Maguire ... George
Antonia Mallen Antonia Mallen ... Rose
Debi Jones Debi Jones ... Micky
Chris Darwin Chris Darwin ... Red
Marie Jelliman Marie Jelliman ... Jingles
Andrew Schofield ... Les
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Storyline

The second film in Terence Davies's autobiographical series ('Trilogy', 'The Long Day Closes') is an impressionistic view of a working-class family in 1940s and 1950s Liverpool, based on Davies's own family. The first part, 'Distant Voices', opens with grown siblings Eileen (Angela Walsh), Maisie (Lorraine Ashbourne) and Tony (Dean Williams), and their mother (Freda Dowie) arranged in mourning clothes before the photograph of their smiling father (Pete Postlethwaite). Soon after, the family poses in a similar tableau, but for a happier occasion - Eileen's wedding. While relatives sing at her reception, Eileen hysterically grieves for her dad, and recalls happy times of her youth. Tony and Maisie's memories, however, are more troubled. Davies intermingles and contrasts scenes like the family peacefully lighting candles in church with the brutal man beating his wife and terrorizing his young children. In 'Still Lives', set (and filmed) two years later, the siblings are settled in life, ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

In memory, everything happens to music.

Genres:

Drama | Music

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK | West Germany

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 November 1988 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Entfernte Stimmen - Stilleben See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$10,021, 30 July 1989

Gross USA:

$693,563

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$771,745
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Freda Dowie had already been in Terence Davies' thoughts for the role of the Mother after he had seen her in several TV roles. One day, when looking at potential casting, Davies asked a colleague to throw him a copy of Spotlight for Actresses and it fell open on the floor, at Freda Dowie's page. He considered this a good omen and confirmed the casting. See more »

Quotes

Eileen: That's all we need, you singing. As if life isn't purgatory enough without that.
See more »

Connections

References Limelight (1952) See more »

Soundtracks

Taking a Chance on Love
(uncredited)
Written by Vernon Duke, John La Touche and Ted Fetter
Performed by Ella Fitzgerald
See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of the most rewarding and unique films I've ever seen.
2 April 2001 | by the_cinesexualSee all my reviews

It's difficult to say exactly what this luminous masterpiece is about. It's a memoir of sorts but a highly stylized one where memories are re-experienced and conveyed through songs, frequently communally sung; painful familial interactions powerfully shot as if the scenes were paintings or sets on a stage. This formal approach resonates simultaneously with richness and alienation, pathos and ecstasy. Difficult to shake.

Not at all what I expected and there's certainly nothing quite like it anywhere in the history of cinema. Powerfully acted and masterfully directed: One of the great works of British movie-making.

I also highly recommend Davies' two other great works: "The Long Day Closes" and the recent, made for Showtime movie starring an amazing Gillian Anderson, "The House of Mirth." I personally didn't care that much for "The Neon Bible."


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