THE LIVING AND ‘THE DEAD’

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The superb, late film critic Roger Ebert touched my soul today, when I happened on his brilliant review of The Dead, one of the most bittersweet movies ever made. It was a faithful recreation of what is arguably James Joyce’s best short story. Poignantly, it was also John Huston’s last movie. He died not not long afterwards, at the age of 81. My mother adored James Joyce. In the 1960’s, she took a graduate course on Joyce from the celebrated Marshall McLuhan at the University of Toronto. When the movie came out in 1987, we went together. At the end, we sat in silence, caught up in the spell Joyce and Huston had managed to create. There is no action in the movie. It is all dialogue and caricature, with a concluding revelation that leads to one of the most famous end passages in English literature, which Ebert reprints. I read those same words over my mother’s grave on a bleak January afternoon in 2009.

Click here for Roger Ebert’s deep, perceptive review. It’s wonderful.

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3 thoughts on “THE LIVING AND ‘THE DEAD’

  1. Here’s the final beautiful scene

  2. Your Mum sounds like a remarkable women, Rod. I read The Dead relentlessly in my UBC English 100 class during the fall of 1966: my introduction to the world of Mr Joyce. The Christmas exam involved an essay question on that topic and when I walked out into the afternoon darkness it was snowing. The movie sits on my digital shelf and I watched it again just a couple of weeks ago. Still holds its magic.

  3. Someone once told me that every word, sentence and paragraph in The Dubliners, the entire short story collection which The Dead concludes, is perfect. I’ve often thought of that remark whenever i re-read The Dubliners. Unbelievable. I agree. Magic is the word. Merry Christmas, Curt, and thanks for your comment. One day, i will finish Ulysses…

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