Films & Schedules

  • The Terence Davies Trilogy

  • Terence Davies

United Kingdom
100 minutes

Production Company:
BFI Production
Terence Davies
William Diver
Digby Rumsey, Sarah Ellis
Principal Cast: Phillip Maudsley, Nick Stringer, Terry O'Sullivan, Robin Hooper

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“Originally there were three medium-length films (Children, Madonna and Child, Death and Transfiguration), all of which had the same protagonist, Robert Tucker, and follow-ed him from childhood to death, illustrating a lifetime struggle between Robert's (homo)sexuality and his Catholicism and family background. Terence Davies has now edited all three into a feature-length film in which the original three parts have become three acts of a continuing drama. For those in need of a filmic reference, the Davies Trilogy resembles the trilogy by Bill Douglas (My Childhood, My Ain Folk,and My Way Home), which was shown at the Festival in 1978. Davies has stripped his fragmented narrative to the barest essentials: the way the light falls through a window to light a room and the character sitting in it, a glance, an obliquely heard half-phrase, the tones in which a name is pronounced, all provide more needed information than dialogue (of which there is a minimum). The sudden understanding shock of sexual self-discovery when the young Robert sees the water running over the body of an older boy in a school shower room has never been captured so accurately (and economically) onscreen before. The film is not a happy one (films about repression never are) but it is terrifyingly moving.”

– David Overbey, 1984

Beginning with the Trilogy and extending to his two subsequent semi-autobiographical features that examine working-class life in post-Second World War Britain, Terence Davies developed a new and uniquely cinematic language. Employing stunningly composed tableaux, an episodic structure and measured pacing, Davies coveys both the experience of remembering and the fragmented and elliptical nature of memory. Foregrounding the emotional content of remembrance, his films vividly express pain and resentment, as well a tender nostalgia for the past.

In the Trilogy, Davies's work differed considerably from that of his contemporary gay filmmakers (who celebrated being gay in film) by expressing his conflicts and turmoil about his sexuality. He offers protagonist Robert Tucker no resolution to the pain of being different, he only confirms its inescapability. Overbey felt a kinship to this maverick approach to the topic. He admired Davies's work for its honesty, consummate craftsmanship and ability to convey the deepest emotions, qualities that place him among the world's most passionate and original filmmakers.

Allen Braude

Terence Davies was born in Liverpool. His first successes came with three short films, Children (76), Madonna and Child (80) and Death and Transfiguration (83), which were later combined and screened as a feature, The Terence Davies Trilogy (84). He went on to direct the acclaimed features Distant Voices, Still Lives (88), The Long Day Closes (92), The Neon Bible (95) and The House of Mirth (00). Of Time and the City (08), which is screening in this Festival, is his most recent film.

Cadillac People's Choice Award