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The Dead (1987)

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.

Director:

John Huston

Writers:

James Joyce (short story from "Dubliners"), Tony Huston (screenplay)
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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 Helena Carroll ... Aunt Kate
Cathleen Delany Cathleen Delany ... Aunt Julia
Rachael Dowling Rachael Dowling ... Lily
Kate O'Toole Kate O'Toole ... Miss Furlong (as Katherine O'Toole)
Bairbre Dowling Bairbre Dowling ... Miss Higgins
Maria Hayden Maria Hayden ... Miss O'Callaghan
Cormac O'Herlihy Cormac O'Herlihy ... Mr. Kerrigan
Colm Meaney ... Mr. Bergin
Ingrid Craigie ... Mary Jane
Dan O'Herlihy ... Mr. Brown
Anjelica Huston ... Gretta
Donal McCann ... Gabriel
Sean McClory ... Mr. Grace (as Seán McClory)
Frank Patterson Frank Patterson ... Bartell D'Arcy
Marie Kean ... Mrs. Malins
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Storyline

On the lightly snowy evening of January 6, 1904 in Dublin, elderly spinster sisters Kate and Julia and their niece, Mary Jane - all music teachers or performers, past or present - are hosting their annual Epiphany party and dinner, and, with the exception of Mary Jane's new crop of students and the young gentlemen tasked with keeping them company, most of the guests have attended in previous years. Kate and Julia's nephew Gabriel and his wife Gretta hold integral roles for the evening, Gabriel, who, in addition to being Freddy Malins caregiver if he gets too drunk as is often the case, is to carve the dinner goose and provide the evening's main toast, while Gretta is to present the pudding. With the added unexpected excitement provided by Irish nationalist Molly Ivors for Gabriel, the party basically goes according to script. As most of the guests have departed and just before Gabriel and Gretta are to do the same - this year they staying in a downtown hotel instead of making the long... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A vast, merry, and uncommon tale of love.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK | Ireland | USA | West Germany

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 December 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

John Huston's The Dead See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$69,074, 20 December 1987, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$4,370,078
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The character Mr. Grace does not appear in Joyce's original story. He is an invention of John and Tony Huston's, and was chiefly included so as to permit a reading of the eighth-century Irish poem Donal Og ("Young Donal"). Although it represents a departure from Joyce's text, the poem is nonetheless appropriate to the story's themes: like the song "The Lass of Aughrim" that follows it, "Donal Og" deals with the suffering that love can bring to young women...just as it has for Gretta. 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.
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
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A small, almost perfect, gem
8 April 2007 | by GyatsoLaSee 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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