John Huston’s magisterial adaptation of the James Joyce story is re-released to coincide with Bloomsday. Always the most literary and philosophical of the great Hollywood directors, Huston used the tale to furnish a portrait of his artistry as an old man, turning the film into a serene song of farewell to Ireland, to the cinema, to life itself.
Dublin, 1904. As they have done for years, friends congregate at a New Year’s party, anxious that one of the guests, Freddy Malins (Donal Donnelly), might be drunk and hard to control. The faint sense of disharmony that steals over the proceedings comes from another source entirely, however: a remembrance of things past. Everything will gather to the moment when Gretta (Anjelica Huston), watched uncomprehendingly by her husband Gabriel (Donal McCann), stops on the stairs to listen to a song that will stir anguished longings she had thought forgotten. The Dead is a comic and compassionate study of life’s disappointments. (Notes by Neil Sinyard.)