(aka 'Distant Voices, Still Lives')
Terence Davies's stunning debut
feature film Distant Voices, Still Lives was instantly recognised as a
masterpiece on its release in 1988 and the director hailed as one of Britain's
most gifted and remarkable filmmakers. Re-released in April 2007 as part of a
complete retrospective season of Terence Davies's films at BFI Southbank, it was
once again showered with critical acclaim.
Superlatives are in short supply to
describe the emotional power of Terence Davies’ fractured chronicle of the
life of a working-class family in 1940s and ’50s Liverpool. Drawing on his
own childhood, Davies turns his film on the pivot of a brutal patriarch’s
death and his daughter’s subsequent marriage, so splitting his film into two
episodes (which he filmed a year apart). The first, ‘Distant Voices’, is a
set of difficult memories of childhood fear and wartime suffering that drift
in and out of the wedding day, while its companion, ‘Still Lives’, portrays
the life of a happier widow, her two daughters, a son and their friends who
gather in pubs, sing and are beginning to suffer their own marriages. Pete
Postlethwaite is Tommy Davies, the violent, damaged and taciturn father;
Freda Dowie is Mrs Davies, his stoic wife and the suffering lynchpin of the
family; and Angela Walsh is Eileen, the daughter whose marriage blows a gust
of fresh air into the stale misery of her family but also threatens to
follow the same tragic pattern as her parents.
Theatrical Release: September 11th, 19988 - Toronto Film Festival
DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - PAL
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||BFI Video - Region 2 - PAL|
Average Bitrate: 5.69 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
commentary by director Terence Davies
Yet another fabulous DVD package from BFI. Such an impressive, and at times understated, film that it's hard imagining it not touching everyone to some degree. The film's image is often intentionally styled to produce effects - age or photographic moments (sepia tinted or heavily grained) but the quality looks as true to theatrical as one could imagine. The transfer looks unmanipulated and there are no visible damage marks. Audio was clean and clear and it is support by optional English subtitles.
BFI have put some love in to this with many strong, relevant, extras. First a director commentary from Davis. He has a wonderfully soft-spoken accent and imparts production details that only the director would be aware of. There is also a 20 minute video interview with Davis by Geoff Andrew and a six minute intro from the Art Director Miki van Zwanenberg. BFI include the original trailer but I also got a lot out of the liner notes booklet with essays by Beryl Bainbridge (entitled Bittersweet Symphony) and Adrian Danks (The Art of Memory), plus an original review from the Monthly Film Bulletin and a Davis biography.
In conclusion I'd say this is just about a perfect DVD package. Although I had heard of the film I had never had the privilege of seeing it. Magnificent... and BFI continue to impress as a company that cares by bring it to us with extensive effort, care and diligence on their part. Bravo! I strongly suggest owning this DVD. Very strongly.