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The Dead (1987)

PG | | Drama | 18 December 1987 (USA)
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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Writers:

(short story from "Dubliners"), (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 ... Aunt Kate
Cathleen Delany ... Aunt Julia
Rachael Dowling ... Lily
... Miss Furlong (as Katherine O'Toole)
Bairbre Dowling ... Miss Higgins
Maria Hayden ... Miss O'Callaghan
Cormac O'Herlihy ... Mr. Kerrigan
... Mr. Bergin
... Mary Jane
... Mr. Brown
... Gretta
... Gabriel
... Mr. Grace (as Seán McClory)
Frank Patterson ... Bartell D'Arcy
... 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:

| | |

Language:

Release Date:

18 December 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

John Huston's The Dead  »

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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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The word-count of the film's 1914 source short story of the same name by James Joyce totals to 15,672 words. See more »

Quotes

Freddy Malins: Oh, if you'll excuse me... See, I've never been able to relieve me-self in the presence of another. Otherwise, I'd have joined the army.
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Connections

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

Soundtracks

Arrayed for the Bridal
From the opera "I Puritani di Scozio" by Vincenzo Bellini
Sung by Cathleen Delaney
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User Reviews

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