Terence Davies

Director, Screenwriter, Actor
Davies is a singularly idiosyncratic, independent British filmmaker noted for his intensely personal autobiographical films ("Distant Voices, Still Lives", 1988; "The Long Day Closes", 1993) that effectively evoke the ... Read more »
Born: 11/10/1945 in Liverpool, England, GB

Filmography

Director (9)

The Deep Blue Sea 2012 (Movie)

(Director)

Of Time and the City 2009 (Movie)

(Director)

The House of Mirth 2000 (Movie)

(Director)

The Neon Bible 1996 (Movie)

(Director)

The Long Day Closes 1993 (Movie)

(Director)

Distant Voices, Still Lives 1989 (Movie)

(Director)

Death and Transfiguration 1982 (Movie)

(Director)

Madonna and Child 1979 (Movie)

(Director)

Children 1975 (Movie)

(Director)
Writer (8)

The Deep Blue Sea 2012 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Of Time and the City 2009 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Neon Bible 1996 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

The Long Day Closes 1993 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Distant Voices, Still Lives 1989 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Death and Transfiguration 1982 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Madonna and Child 1979 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Children 1975 (Movie)

(Screenplay)
Actor (4)

Of Time and the City 2009 (Movie)

(Narrator)

Father and Son 1991 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Derek Jarman: A Portrait 1990 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Ups & Downs 1981 (Movie)

(Actor)

Biography

Davies is a singularly idiosyncratic, independent British filmmaker noted for his intensely personal autobiographical films ("Distant Voices, Still Lives", 1988; "The Long Day Closes", 1993) that effectively evoke the sounds and textures of post-war working-class life in England's Liverpool. His recurring themes include memory and its close relationship to popular culture--particularly music and movies, the disjunction between bleak lives and glittering fantasies, the collision between the brutish masculine behavior of fathers and the terrified homosexual identity of their sons and the power struggles inherent in familial relations. Spare and austere, these low-budget yet surprisingly elegant films tend to be contemplative, deliberately paced and melancholy in tone; while certainly not for all tastes, they have been hailed as sublime works of art.

EDUCATION

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Boys School

dropped out at age 15

National Film School

enrolled at age 32; teachers included Alexander Mackendrick

Coventry Drama School

Coventry 1972
enrolled at age 28

Milestones

2011

Directed Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston in "The Deep Blue Sea," a romantic drama he adapted from Terence Rattigan's play

2008

Directed and appeared in "Of Time and the City," a documentary about his birthplace Liverpool

2000

Adapted screenplay and directed film adaptation of romantic drama "The House of Mirth," starring Gillian Anderson

1995

Wrote and directed the screen version of John Kennedy Toole's novel "The Neon Bible"

1992

Helmed another autobiographical look at a Catholic family "The Long Day Closes"

1988

First feature (also first in color, first in 35mm), "Distant Voices, Still Lives"; film won 17 international prizes

1984

Wrote first novel Hallelujah Now

1984

Won acclaim with "The Terence Davies Trilogy" – a compilation of three shorts, "Children," "Madonna and Child," and "Death and Transfiguration"

1982

Feature film acting debut, "Ups & Downs"

1980

Admitted to the National Film School; began work on second film "Madonna and Child"

1976

"Children" produced by the British Film Institute (with Mamoun Hassan)

1973

Went to Coventry Drama School; completed first screenplay "Children"

1952

Attended his first movie "Singin' in the Rain"

Attended Catholic secondary school until age 15

Left school and worked as a clerk in a shipping office

Joined Liverpool Writer's Club and became amateur actor; wrote work performed on radio

Worked for 12 years as an accountant and bookkeeper

Bonus Trivia

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"The Terence Davies Trilogy" was also cited at many film festivals including the Locarno Film Festival in 1984 and the Cadiz Film Festival in 1985.

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"Yet for all his individuality of perspective, Davies is deeply concerned with the public reception of his work, and the personal pain that he exorcises in his films is never far from the surface of his discourse. Although the grim physical world of "Distant Voices, Still Lives" is punctuated with a series of seemingly inappropriate show tunes that simultaneously mirror and offer sardonic commentary on the bleak lives of Davies' protagonists, in his lush pictorial continuity, severely sculptural lighting, and deeply felt sense of color, Davies sees mundane life as something that continually seeks release and transmogrification through the redemptive quality of popular entertainment." – Wheeler Winston Dixon, "The Long Day Closes: An Interview with Terence Davies," Cineaste, Vol. XIX, Nos. 2-3

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Davies: "...That's the last bit of my autobiography. I shan't do anymore. I've said it all now. But I do think it's true, that if there hadn't been all that misery and suffering in my life and in my family's lives, there would have been nothing to write about. I suppose one is the product of one's background. I can't conceive of writing about something which is just simply happy. It's very difficult to write about that; I just don't think that way. But I don't want to do any more autobiography. I've done enough. I've been doing it for eighteen years, and it's an awfully long time." – "The Long Day Closes: An Interview with Terence Davies," Cineaste, Vol. XIX, Nos. 2-3

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Davies: "There are some American actors I'd like to work with. I think that even BAD American actors are so much BETTER than English actors, because they always know what to do with their eyes! ...The drawback to American films for me, as an Englishman, is that so much of the time the acting, and indeed the films, are ruined by this dreadful sentimentality, where everyone cries all the time and tells each other that they love one another, and this is supposed to mean something. I DO find that kind of sentimentality really quite repellent. And the crashing music cues that tell you when to emote, that's another weakness. So I don't know what the new film will be, but I guarantee you it won't be like that! I'm after something altogether different." – "The Long Day Closes: An Interview with Terence Davies," Cineaste, Vol. XIX, Nos. 2-3

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"Davies' end-of-innocence (his long day closing) bears upon the film's ["The Long Day Closes," 1993] most prized sounds and images and these occur through Bud's [the young protagonist] particular prism. "The Long Day Closes" is, perhaps, the first great movie about an explicitly gay child and it has the advantage of coming from an intelligent, unconned perspective. The central metaphor is presented during a geology class when Bud's teacher lectures on erosion. The melodious, stentorian repetition of the word 'erosion' (taken from an actual school text) is a great piece of found poetry; it sums up the film's main concern with Eros – the act of, state of, result of. It is the idea that most concerns Bud's maturation and it is the wonder captured within Davies' remarkable images and awesome recall." – from "'Long Day' Combines Politics and Emotion" by Armond White, The City Sun, June 2-8, 1993

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"I know you can't please everybody, and people who don't like my work will still say this is too slow. But I'm as ego-driven and as vain as anybody else. Because of my problems, I want people to like my work, so in effect they're liking me. It's odd that someone as insecure as me should go into a business like this. Very peculiar. But I'm getting help. Even my therapist hates my father now, you'll be pleased to hear."No, very few people are vouchsafed a long career, and no one wants to see me keeping doing the same old thing. My personal past is gone now in terms of film. I've nothing else to say on that, and if I have it will be in the autobiography I'm writing. But I mean to develop until I die. My great templates are Bruckner and Sibelius, because their symphonies got better and better as they got older. Otherwise, what's the point?" – Davies quoted in The Independent, Oct. 1, 2000

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"He is the most passionate person I have ever met. He has enormous passion for his work, his life, his likes, his dislikes." – Laura Linney to The Guardian, Oct. 6, 2000

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"I have to say on behalf of all the actors in the film, none of us have ever quite worked with anyone like Terence. He lived with the book for 15 years, so, when I came in to read a part, he acted out all the parts. And when we got on the set, he acted out all the parts. And I truly believe that Terence was every role in the film...He was so passionately involved in the making of it that we all felt that we had to live up to his imagination, which is boundless-how he pictured us in the roles. It was a challenge. A curious way to work. We were a lot of surly American actors, we're pretty much used to doing whatever we want. And he wouldn't stand for that. It was a great experience." – Eric Stoltz at a press conference for "The House of Mirth" during the 2000 Toronto Film Festival, quoted at World Socialist Web Site (www.wsws.org)

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" ... I think I'm drawn to the tragic because my psyche is basically not optimistic. It's tragic. My view of life is tragic. Pessimistic. I'd love to do a comedy, but I'm not sure whether I could actually pull it off because having a good sense of humor is not the same as being able to make good comedy. I suppose I just see the underlying tragedy of life and it's all so pointless." – Davies to Brandon Judell for IndieWire (www.indiewire.com), Dec. 12, 2000

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On growing up gay: "That was the hard because I was still a practicing Catholic. I prayed until my knees bled. I longed to be forgiven and I hadn't done anything. I do have to say, equally, that it has ruined my life because no one's ever been interested in me. I'm not good-looking. I don't have a good body. I'm very lonely. You get fed up with being on your own all the time; it kind of erodes you, and I do feel envious of gay men who are good-looking. I wish I didn't, but I do. I also wish I were very good-looking and really stupid because that is the unbeatable combination." – Davies quoted by Loren King in The Boston Globe, Jan. 14, 2001

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