I've always thought The Dead was unfilmable and when I first saw Huston's movie I was reassured of that. But the more I've looked back at it, the more I've analyzed and the more times I've talked about it with others, the more I realized how amazing this adaptation truly is. The story probably is unfilmable, but Huston gave it remarkably good shot.
Such an elegant final film for Huston but the majority of the film has a certain undercurrent of uneasiness. Throughout the dinner party you meet these living, breathing characters that are disappointed in one small way or another. We anticipate Gabriel's speech, who speaks eloquently but whose communication w/ his wife is almost nonexistent. The final soliloquy is a knockout of emotion, realization, and sadness.
Doesn't quite match up to the original story when it comes to expressing the unexpressible, but it's a well-made, honorably filmed attempt, and it certainly captures something in the progression from a deceptively naturalistic opening to its final melancholic shots.
A perfect gem that is currently flying to low under the radar given the Huston prestige and its status as his swan song. And what a song it is, delicately scaled just as the source material was before it. The film's many pleasures are encapsulated by an image featuring Anjelica Huston framed beautifully on a staircase. Huston was many things throughout his career, but for those few moments he is a true painter.
A curious attempt to adapt Joyce to the big screen and to recreate the life of Irish aristocracy in 1904, this movie fails at several levels, though it has some fine "poetic" moments that give life to all the characters involved. But Joyce is the most literary of all writers and some things are just impossible to adapt. In the end, we have the pilot episode of a well-made BBC series with medium production values.
A wintry film directed by a dying John Huston. Only the intoxicated guest and the lost coachman bring some colour and some life to this uptight gathering. Now if you're not a James Joyce fan, a John Huston completist nor a curious movie lover, I wonder how you landed here. A DVD zone Prozacland. Curtain !
John Huston's final film is a beautiful, elagic mood piece about a Christmas dinner in Dublin circa 1907, The Dead is short on plot but heavy on rich characterization and stellar performances. The camera intimately tracks its way through the small apartment and Huston's painterly visuals add to the overall atmosphere. It's a masterpiece, but I only wish the phone hadn't kept ringing while I was trying to watch it.
In his final film, Huston reminds us yet again that we are always trapped by our inner selves, the past and hidden longings and desires that determine the course of our being. It is in our coming together as a whole which alleviates these sufferings, if only for a short while.