Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  17 February 1989 (Finland)
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The second film in Terence Davies's autobiographical series ('Trilogy', 'The Long Day Closes') is an impressionistic view of a working-class family in 1940s and 1950s Liverpool, based on ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Freda Dowie ...
Angela Walsh ...
Dean Williams ...
Sally Davies ...
Eileen as a Child
Nathan Walsh ...
Tony as a Child
Susan Flanagan ...
Maisie as a Child
Michael Starke ...
Vincent Maguire ...
Antonia Mallen ...
Debi Jones ...
Chris Darwin ...
Marie Jelliman ...


The second film in Terence Davies's autobiographical series ('Trilogy', 'The Long Day Closes') is an impressionistic view of a working-class family in 1940s and 1950s Liverpool, based on Davies's own family. The first part, 'Distant Voices', opens with grown siblings Eileen (Angela Walsh), Maisie (Lorraine Ashbourne) and Tony (Dean Williams), and their mother (Freda Dowie) arranged in mourning clothes before the photograph of their smiling father (Pete Postlethwaite). Soon after, the family poses in a similar tableau, but for a happier occasion - Eileen's wedding. While relatives sing at her reception, Eileen hysterically grieves for her dad, and recalls happy times of her youth. Tony and Maisie's memories, however, are more troubled. Davies intermingles and contrasts scenes like the family peacefully lighting candles in church with the brutal man beating his wife and terrorizing his young children. In 'Still Lives', set (and filmed) two years later, the siblings are settled in life, ... Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

17 February 1989 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Entfernte Stimmen - Stilleben  »

Box Office


$688,329 (USA)

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Did You Know?


The film was a' labour of love' for director, cast and crew. Due to the extreme low budget, it had to be shot at weekends over a period of two years. See more »


References Guys and Dolls (1955) See more »


Oh, Mein Papa
Written by John Turner, Geoffrey Parsons, and Paul Burkhardt
Performed by Eddie Calvert
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User Reviews

"Evocative, elegiac and poignant..."
30 July 2012 | by (Norway) – See all my reviews

English screenwriter and director Terence Davies feature film debut which he also wrote, was originally made for television and is inspired by his family memories growing up in a working-class family in Liverpool, England during the 1940s. It consists of the two films "Distant Voices" and "Still Lives" which were made two years apart with the same crew. While "Distant Voices" portrays the main characters growing up in Britain in the 1940s during World War II, "Still Lives" portrays them as grown-ups in Britain in the early 1950s after the war. It premiered in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 41st Cannes International Film Festival in 1988, was shot on locations in Liverpool, England and is a UK production which was produced by producer Jennifer Howarth. It tells the story about Tony, Eileen and Maisie, and their memories of their childhood living in a terraced house in North West England with their deeply religious mother and their and tyrannical father.

Distinctly and brilliantly directed by British filmmaker Terence Davies, this heartrending, impressionistic and biographical period drama draws a profoundly moving portrayal of a Catholic family living in Kensington, Liverpool during and after the Second World War in the mid-20th century. While notable for it's colorful milieu depictions, stellar production design by production designer Miki Van Zwanenberg and production designer and art director Jocelyn James, cinematography by cinematographer and film editor William Diver and cinematographer Patrick Duval, costume design by costume designer Monica Howe, editing by William Diver and use of music, this rarely affective and atmospheric coming-of-age story draws an intimate depiction of three siblings afflicting relationship with their patriarchal father and how his and his wife's separate ways of upbringing has shaped their lives, literary steams of love and compassion for it's locations and characters.

This rhythmic, lyrical and insightful journey through a filmmakers remembrance which is narrated from multiple viewpoints, is impelled and reinforced by it's fragmented narrative structure and the empathic and heartfelt acting performances by English actor Pete Postlethwaite (1946-2011), actor Dean Williams, English actress Freda Dowie, actress Angela Walsh in her debut feature film role and English actress Lorraine Ashbourne in her debut feature film role. An evocative, elegiac and poignant independent film which gained, among other awards, the FIPRESCI Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1988.

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