IMDb > "Great Performances" The Lost Language of Cranes (1991)

"Great Performances" The Lost Language of Cranes (1991)

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David Leavitt (novel)
Sean Mathias (writer)
View company contact information for The Lost Language of Cranes on IMDbPro.
Original Air Date:
14 November 1991 (Season 20, Episode 17)
When a young gay man comes out of the closet. His friends support him, but when he comes out to his parents, he stirs up a wealth of hidden feelings and secrets in their relationship. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Painfully Bitter See more (16 total) »


 (Episode Cast) (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Brian Cox ... Owen Benjamin

Eileen Atkins ... Rose Benjamin

Angus Macfadyen ... Philip Benjamin

Corey Parker ... Elliot Abrahams

Rene Auberjonois ... Geoffrey Lane

John Schlesinger ... Derek Moulthorpe
Cathy Tyson ... Jerene Parks
Richard Warwick ... Frank
Nicholas Le Prevost ... Nick

Ben Daniels ... Robin Bradley
Frank Middlemass ... Alex

Nigel Whitmey ... Winston Penn
Edmund Kente ... Bob
Paul Cottingham ... Porno Boy 1
Tom Harden ... Porno Boy 2
Sjaak Van der Bent ... Singer

Adam Matalon ... Doorman
Ben McVeigh ... Crane Child

Episode Crew
Directed by
Nigel Finch 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
David Leavitt  novel
Sean Mathias  writer

Produced by
Ruth Caleb .... producer
Kimberly Myers .... executive producer
Mark Shivas .... executive producer
Original Music by
Julian Wastall 
Cinematography by
Remi Adefarasin 
Film Editing by
Sue Wyatt 
Production Design by
Bruce Macadie 
Costume Design by
James Keast 
Makeup Department
Fran Needham .... makeup designer
Sound Department
John Pritchard .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Paddy Blake .... assistant camera
Sean Savage .... assistant camera

Series Crew
These people are regular crew members. Were they in this episode?
Directed by
John Doyle 
John Glenmeister (episode "Man Who Married a French Wife, the")
Nick Havinga (episode "Girls in Their Summer Dresses") (episode "Monument, The")
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Marion J. Caffey  creator
Daniel Ezralow  creator
Josh Groban  creator

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

UK:87 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:


Wasn't this originally shown on BBC in the early '90s?
See more »
11 out of 11 people found the following review useful.
Painfully Bitter, 31 March 2005
Author: gftbiloxi ( from Biloxi, Mississippi

With a sharp story, tremendous irony, brilliantly low key performances, and elegant direction and cinematography, THE LOST LANGUAGE OF CRANES received tremendous acclaim when it debuted in 1992; a decade later it has lost but little of its original punch.

Based on the notable novel by David Leavitt, CRANES offers the story of Philip (Angus Macfayden), an attractive young Englishman who has fallen in love with the wealthy and manipulative American Elliot (Corey Parker)--and on the basis of that love decides to inform his parents that he is gay. But Philip's announcement precipitates a crisis that he cannot imagine: his own father Owen (Brian Cox) is homosexual, a secret he has concealed from wife Rose (Eileen Atkins) since their marriage. At the same time, Philip discovers the foundation of his love with Philip is considerably less stable than he thought, and suddenly all concerned in the story find their lives built on shifting sand.

The performances are what make the film work, and while Mcfayden and Cox have the showier roles (and are excellent in them), it is really actress Eileen Atkins who emerges as the powerhouse performer in the complex role of a woman who has deliberately lived in denial--and who must now respond to a double-whammy that undercuts the very foundation of her existence. Carefully controlled, Atkins delivers a flawless performance with incredible weight and realism.

The flaw in the film is the script, which tends toward a certain clinical, slightly artificial awkwardness from time to time, and although the film offers many interesting visual metaphors, it ties them so loosely to the overall story that it is often difficult to know to what these metaphors refer. Even so, THE LOST LANGUAGE OF CRANES offers a powerhouse punch in its message of the need for honesty lest one be trapped into a way of living that slowly and but inextricably destroys the opportunities of youth--and leaves one with the bitter realization that the effort of keeping the lie alive has left one with little more than the lie itself. Powerful stuff; recommended.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer

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