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

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

« Prev | 43 of 366 Episodes | Next »

Photos (See all 5 | slideshow)


User Rating:
7.7/10   483 votes »
Your Rating:
Saving vote...
Deleting vote...
/10   (delete | history)
Sorry, there was a problem
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:
Serious drama about coming out and hiding secrets 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 »
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
Serious drama about coming out and hiding secrets, 8 December 2007
Author: wilcabral from São Paulo, Brazil

The lost language of cranes" is a British TV movie based on the novel by David Leavitt. The problem when you see a movie adaptation of a book you have already read -- and loved -- is that either the adaptation is not faithful and betrays the book, or it is too faithful and just looks like a summary of the story. Very rarely a movie adaptation can remain faithful to the essence of the book but not so literal that it brings nothing new to the story; unfortunately, that's the case here.

It tells the story of a family, the Benjamins, who have lots of secrets. Owen Benjamin, played by Brian Cox, is a closeted homosexual married to Rose (Eileen Atkins). Every Sunday Owen goes to a porno cinema, where he has anonymous sex with men. Owen and Rose's son, Philip (Angus MacFadyen), is also a gay man, but he has no problems with his sexuality. He's very much in love with Elliot (Corey Parker), a young American artist who was raised by a gay couple. The conflict starts when Philip decides to come out to his parents, making his father face his own desire and his mother confront her own prejudice.

The most surprising fact about this British adaptation of an American novel is how little the change of place from New York to London affects the story. Indeed, this adaptation is so faithful to the original that whole dialogs from the book appear on the screen, almost unchanged. And yet, we get to know from the bonus interviews on this DVD that the porno cinema, which plays such an important role in the story, was a real problem in the adaptation because there were no such places in London, due to their laws. So apparently the screenwriter, Sean Mathias, had to "create" a porno cinema that never existed, appropriately called "the Fantasy".

Among the sacrifices that had to be made for the sake of the length of the movie, the one I most regret is the use of the character Jerene, played by Cathy Tyson. In the novel, Jerene is a full and complex character, a black lesbian student who was rejected by her parents and develops a thesis about languages that are lost forever, like the little boy who, neglected by his mother, learned to communicate looking at the cranes from his window. In the movie, Jerene appears only to explain the title of the film and little else.

If you haven't read the novel, you will find this movie a very interesting drama about a family having to face their hidden secrets, but without ever raising their voices, which is very British! If you already know the book, however, you may feel a little disappointed.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (16 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for "Great Performances" (1971)

Related Links

Main series Episode guide Full cast and crew
Company credits External reviews IMDb TV section
IMDb Biography section IMDb UK section

You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.