Born Nov 10, 1945. From Liverpool, England.
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“The only real poet that British cinema has yet produced,” Lindsay Anderson called Humphrey Jennings in 1954. Anderson likely would’ve revised his opinion after Terence Davies’ arrival on the nation’s film scene. Davies established himself as a fiercely original cinematic presence with a trilogy of haunting autobiographical short films, then proceeded to release two of the most miraculous works of contemporary cinema back-to-back. Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) and The Long Day Closes (1992) are both intensely personal memory plays, meditations on loneliness and community and moviegoing composed of an escalating series of gorgeous tableaux. Both are practically musicals; in Davies’ working-class Liverpool songs offer an escape from an often bleak present and unite even the most strained of communities. Yet Davies fills even these scenes of togetherness with an inescapable air of melancholy and longing - longing to participate more fully in the present moment and to re-live an inaccessible past.
Davies has always been indebted to literature (an initial review of Distant Vocies dubbed him “the proletarian Proust”), and he made the link explicit with his next two films: The Neon Bible (1995) and The House of Mirth (2000), were both literary adaptations, though still heavily informed by Davies’ own bittersweet temperament. Both were Official Selections at the New York Film Festival. 2008’s Of Time and the City returned Davies to his favorite subject - his own Liverpool childhood - but this time the filmmaker addresses us directly. His first documentary, it proved to be as profoundly moving and elegiac as his early features. His most recent film is the acclaimed drama The Deep Blue Sea (2011).