Gabriel Conroy and wife Greta attend an early January dinner with friends at the home of his spinster aunts, an evening which results in an epiphany for both of them.

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(screenplay), (story)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Helena Carroll ...
Cathleen Delany ...
Ingrid Craigie ...
Rachael Dowling ...
Marie Kean ...
Frank Patterson ...
Maria McDermottroe ...
Sean McClory ...
Mr. Grace
...
Miss Furlong (as Katherine O'Toole)
Maria Hayden ...
Miss O'Callaghan
Bairbre Dowling ...
Miss Higgins
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Storyline

John Huston's last film is a labor of love at several levels: an adaptation of perhaps one of the greatest pieces of English-language literature by one of Huston's favorite authors, James Joyce; a love letter to the land of his ancestors and the country where his children grew up; and the chance to work with his screenwriter son Tony and his actress daughter Anjelica. The film is delicate and unhurried, detailing an early January dinner at the house of two spinster musician sisters and their niece in turn-of-the-century Ireland, attended by friends and family. Among the visiting attendees are the sisters' nephew Gabriel Conroy and his wife Gretta. The evening's reminiscences bring up melancholy memories for Gretta concerning her first, long-lost love when she was a girl in rural Galway. Her recounting of this tragic love to Gabriel brings him to an epiphany: he learns the difference between mere existence and living. The all-Irish cast and careful period detail give the piece richness... Written by Russ W. <russwlkr@ix.netcom.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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A vast, merry, and uncommon tale of love.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

18 December 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

John Huston's The Dead  »

Box Office

Gross:

$4,370,078 (USA)
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Company Credits

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, ,  »
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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The picture's closing credits declare that "this film was made on location in Valencia, California and Dublin Ireland". See more »

Quotes

Gabriel Conroy: [asking Gretta about Michael Furey] What was it he died of so young? Consumption, was it?
Gretta Conroy: I think he died for me.
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Connections

Referenced in Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

"For He's a Jolly God Fellow' (uncredited)
Traditional American and British song
Sung by Donal McCan and guests to his aunts and cousin at Christmas table
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User Reviews

 
A small, almost perfect, gem
8 April 2007 | by (Ireland) – See all my reviews

So many literary adaptations are disappointments. There are many reasons for that, but usually it is the need to cut down a complex novel to the size of a screenplay. The Dead is unusual - it had to be 'padded', as the short story itself is a tiny, relatively short gem. It may in fact be the finest short story in the English language. In beautifully spare language it tells of the realization of Gabriel Conroy that his life, and the lives of so many around him are controlled by memories of the dead. Even his own wife of many years loved a man now dead more than him.

To bring such a short story to the cinema was always going to be tricky. John Huston did a magnificent job. He never gave in to temptation to play it up or use fancy technique to expand on the story. It is simple and true, with outstanding acting. The only slight miss-step is the use of music to accompany the devastating final soliloquy.

Its rare indeed for a movie version of a literary masterpiece to be itself a masterpiece, but I think its fair to use this term for this movie. Its not a bravura piece of film making, but it is simple and pure - I always think of Ozu's movies when i think of The Dead, its at that level of purity and simplicity and deep wisdom.


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