Glad to be unhappy - Page 2

Terence Davies orchestrates a cinema of eternal returns
Distant Voices, Still Lives

I wanted to try and capture what it was like when I was growing up. Even I was shocked at some of the footage of the slums, which were some of the worst in Europe. I grew up in one, and when you grow up in one you don't realize it, because everyone else is in the same boat. But seeing footage of it now, it's absolutely appalling. When you think that in 1953 this massive amount of money was spent on the coronation of the present queen, it's just obscene. They get away with it — it's quite extraordinary. I'm very much a republican; I'm not a monarchist. When you juxtapose the coronation with the footage that we've found, it's shocking.

SFBG Solitude and rich sensory experience are qualities at the core of your movies. Those qualities take on specific aspects in cinema — your use of darkness in relation to light is connected to, and even a few times directly about, the experience of being in a dark movie theater.

TD You have to see the films in the cinema. It's lovely to see, say, Letter from an Unknown Woman [1948] on the telly, but if you see it projected, it's even more ravishing. The only way to see a film is in the cinema — nowhere else.

SFBG I first saw my favorite of your films, The Long Day Closes, at the Castro Theatre here in San Francisco.

TD The Castro is a beautiful theater. But I remember that when I was there, two men were walking down the aisle and one asked, "What did you see last night?" The other said he'd seen the [Terence Davies] Trilogy. The first asked, "What did you think?" And the other said, "Not very good."

SFBG There's no accounting for taste.

TD Another man said to me, "These films make Ingmar Bergman look like Jerry Lewis," which I thought was a wonderful insult — practically a compliment. Isn't that fabulous?


Feb. 20–27, $5.50–$9.50

Pacific Film Archive

2575 Bancroft Way, Berk.

(510) 642-5249

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