2 user 1 critic

Volcano: An Inquiry Into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry (1976)

A documentary on the life of the alcoholic writer Malcolm Lowry, interspersed with readings of Lowry's work by Richard Burton. Lowry was born and educated in England. He moved to Mexico in ... See full summary »


Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Against a background of war breaking out in Europe and the Mexican fiesta Day of Death, we are taken through one day in the life of Geoffrey Firmin, a British consul living in alcoholic ... See full summary »

Director: John Huston
Stars: Albert Finney, Jacqueline Bisset, Anthony Andrews
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A defrocked Episcopal clergyman leads a bus-load of middle-aged Baptist women on a tour of the Mexican coast and comes to terms with the failure haunting his life.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr
The Brood (1979)
Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A man tries to uncover an unconventional psychologist's therapy techniques on his institutionalized wife, amidst a series of brutal murders.

Director: David Cronenberg
Stars: Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle
Ishtar (1987)
Action | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.2/10 X  

Two terrible lounge singers get booked to play a gig in a Moroccan hotel but somehow become pawns in an international power play between the CIA, the Emir of Ishtar, and the rebels trying to overthrow his regime.

Director: Elaine May
Stars: Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, Isabelle Adjani
Plenty (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A young Englishwoman spends 20 years to make whatever kind of life for herself at the expense of others around her in post-World War 2 England.

Director: Fred Schepisi
Stars: Meryl Streep, Sam Neill, Charles Dance
Duel (TV Movie 1971)
Action | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A business commuter is pursued and terrorized by the malevolent driver of a massive tractor-trailer.

Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott, Eddie Firestone
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An ophthalmologist's mistress threatens to reveal their affair to his wife, while a married documentary filmmaker is infatuated by another woman.

Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Martin Landau, Woody Allen, Bill Bernstein
Giant (1956)
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Sprawling epic covering the life of a Texas cattle rancher and his family and associates.

Director: George Stevens
Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean
Jungle Fever (1991)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Friends and family of a married black architect react in different ways to his affair with an Italian secretary.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Wesley Snipes, Annabella Sciorra, Spike Lee
The 400 Blows (1959)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Moving story of a young boy who, left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime.

Director: François Truffaut
Stars: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Claire Maurier
Notorious (1946)
Drama | Film-Noir | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A woman is asked to spy on a group of Nazi friends in South America. How far will she have to go to ingratiate herself with them?

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A bitter, aging couple, with the help of alcohol, use a young couple to fuel anguish and emotional pain towards each other.

Director: Mike Nichols
Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal


Credited cast:
Marjorie Bonner ...
Donald Brittain ...
Narrator (voice)
John Buchan ...
Himself (archive footage)
Malcolm Lowry (voice)
Arthur Calder-Marshall ...
Albert Russel Erskine ...


A documentary on the life of the alcoholic writer Malcolm Lowry, interspersed with readings of Lowry's work by Richard Burton. Lowry was born and educated in England. He moved to Mexico in 1936, where he lived near the volcano Popocatepetl, on an allowance from his father. There, between drunken bouts, he started writing his one important novel, "Under the Volcano" that takes place on the Mexican day of the dead. He takes eight years to finish it, writing most of it while living in a shack in British Colombia, Canada. Written by Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

November 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le volcan: une réflexion sur la vie et la mort de Malcolm Lowry  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.44 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This documentary is featured on The Criterion Collection's 2-disc DVD set for Under the Volcano (1984). See more »


Featured in Donald Brittain: Filmmaker (1995) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Penetrating, but negativity a bit overdone
19 August 2009 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

The strength of this documentary is the appearance of many who knew Malcolm Lowry personally, including his widow, Margery Lowry (Bonner). It traces the emotional and physical geography of Malcolm Lowry's turbulent life, including his most productive time, the 14 years he and Margery spent living in a beach shack in Dollarton (now part of Vancouver) BC, Canada.

Margery Bonner is the unnamed spouse in Malcolm Lowry's The Forest Path to the Spring, which is a fictionalized account of their years at Dollarton ("Eridanus"). This novella, thought to be Lowry's "most optimistic work" (by George Bowering), describes that period in idyllic terms, with many positive references to his spouse, by the unnamed narrator. It was published posthumously along with a parallel work, The Bravest Boat, from The October Ferry to Gabriola.

Volcano, though, is an unremitting tragedy that begins at the bottom of a life, and goes downhill from there. Richard Burton's lugubrious reading from Lowry's prose is powerful, but dreary. One is tempted to ask, Is that all there is? No, it isn't. The Forest Path to the Spring stands in counterpoint to Volcano. The novella certainly portrays the author's inner demons, but offers as well a lightness, a powerful hymn to the spirit of a place, and a description of a life at least partly redeemed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: