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British filmmaker Terence Davies dies at 77

Terence Davies was best known for directing ‘Distant Voices, Still Lives’, ‘The Long Day Closes’ and ‘The Deep Blue Sea’

Director Terence Davies
Director Terence Davies

British filmmaker Terence Davies has passed away at 77. The news of his demise was shared on his official Instagram page: "It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Terence Davies, who died peacefully at home after a short illness, today on 7th October 2023."

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Davies was known for his period films as well as his early autobiographical trilogy about growing up in Liverpool.

Though his films received a lot of praise for their sympathetic portrayals of LGBT life, Catholicism, and other common topics, they didn't win a lot of prizes, which he thought about in his characteristically philosophical style.

"It would have been nice to be acknowledged by Bafta. Again, there's also part of me that thinks: isn't it just vanity? If a film lives every time it's seen, that's the real reward," he told the Guardian. "I think I've achieved what I set out to do."

Born to a large Catholic family in Liverpool, Davies left school at 16 and worked for 10 years as a clerk before attending Coventry Drama School. His first short, "Children," was autobiographical, and written while he was at school. He then attended the National Film School, where he made "Madonna and Child," another autobiographical work about his years as a clerk.

The third film in the series, "Death and Transfiguration" was about him musing on the possible circumstances of his death. The three films are known as "The Terence Davies Trilogy."His first two films, 'Distant Voices, Still Lives' (1998) and 'The Long Day Closes' (1992), again dealt with themes from his life and received praise while placing well on lists of the best British films.

For "The Neon Bible" in 1995, Davies adapted a novel by John Kennedy Toole, and it received a Bafta nomination for best British film. "The House of Mirth" was based on Edith Wharton's novel, and Gillian Anderson was praised for her performance as socialite Lily Bart. Unable to complete financing for his fifth feature "Sunset Song," he produced two radio plays, "A Walk to the Paradise Garden" and an adaptation of Virginia Woolf's "The Waves," reported Variety.

After "Of Time and the City," a documentary that screened outside of competition at Cannes in 2008 and received a lot of praise, Davies switched to documentaries. The documentary paid homage to his hometown of Liverpool by including several literary, musical, and cinematic allusions.

"The Deep Blue Sea," an adaptation of a play by Terence Rattigan, won the N.Y. Film Critics Circle award for Rachel Weisz, and again drew highly positive reviews. In 2015 he was finally able to complete "Sunset Song" and followed with "A Quiet Passion," about Emily Dickinson, and "Benediction," about poet Siegfried Sassoon. 

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