Thanks to Terence Davies’s distinctive filmmaking style,The Long Day Closes doesn’t quite feel like any other motion picture. This intensely moving, ethereal reverie on a brief happy period of the director’s often sad childhood in Liverpool during the fifties moves in and out of different moods and sensations, rather than laying out a straightforward narrative. His films may come across as stream-of-consciousness, but Davies actually meticulously sets up every shot and music cue in the first draft of his scripts. Often, his plans are ambitious, as is clear from the following magnificently realized scene. Set to Debbie Reynolds’s 1957 hit song ”Tammy,” it is a virtuosic cinematic symphony, composed of incredible high-angle shots of a movie theater, church, and schoolroom, graphically matched to express the importance of those three locations in Davies’s youth.
The autobiographical films of Terence Davies are not simply nostalgic journeys into the director’s past; they are piercing insights into the filmmaker’s turbulent early life. While Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988), The Long Day Closes (1992) and Of Time and the City (2008) are feature-length depictions of the people and places he knew growing up, the three short films that comprise The Terence Davies Trilogy –Children (1976), Madonna and Child (1980) and Death and Transfiguration (1983) –are the earliest looks at the filmmaker’s life, focusing on the solitary figure of Robert Tucker. Just as François Truffaut showcased the adventures of Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud), his surrogate self, across five films, the character of Tucker (played by a range of actors across the three films) is a stand-in for Davies. Continue reading →