I'm a bit of a movie buff. Every since I was very young and my best friend of the time had a father who was a manager of the Savoy Cinema in Cork. Free passes. Need I say more. To add to this bounty, I used to stay with an uncle and aunt during the summer. They lived in a small town in East Cork and my uncle was the owner of the local cinema. Unlimited access to the double bills, the serials, the documentaries and the cartoons. Bliss. In those days, it seemed like a visit to the cinema was a huge event that took place for the entire afternoon or evening.
I have many favourite films. But top of my list would have to be "The Dead". This is a movie based on James Joyce's short story - a short story many have voted the best ever. John Huston directed it. A very ill and dying John Huston. It would his last film. And what a swan song! His son, Tony, adapted the story for the film, and his daughter Anjelica starred in it. The performance of her career.
The premise of the film revolves around a dinner party in Dublin at the turn of the last century with a great mix of characters drawn together to share food, music, poetry and dancing, and the remembrance of one great lost love.
My review of the movie is here.
I get a lot of correspondence from people who love the film as much as I do. We are almost a cult, I would think :-).
Many ask me for the words of the poem that is recited half way through the film and I send it to them.
Here is the wonderful, heart-breaking poem, by Lady Gregory.
by Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory
Translated from an anonymous eighth-century Irish poem
It is late last night the dog was speaking of you;
the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh.
It is you are the lonely bird through the woods;
and that you may be without a mate until you find me.
You promised me, and you said a lie to me,
that you would be before me where the sheep are flocked;
I gave a whistle and three hundred cries to you,
and I found nothing there but a bleating lamb.
You promised me a thing that was hard for you,
a ship of gold under a silver mast;
twelve towns with a market in all of them,
and a fine white court by the side of the sea.
You promised me a thing that is not possible,
that you would give me gloves of the skin of a fish;
that you would give me shoes of the skin of a bird;
and a suit of the dearest silk in Ireland.
When I go by myself to the Well of Loneliness,
I sit down and I go through my trouble;
when I see the world and do not see my boy,
he that has an amber shade in his hair.
It was on that Sunday I gave my love to you;
the Sunday that is last before Easter Sunday.
And myself on my knees reading the Passion;
and my two eyes giving love to you for ever.
My mother said to me not to be talking with you today,
or tomorrow, or on the Sunday;
it was a bad time she took for telling me that;
it was shutting the door after the house was robbed.
My heart is as black as the blackness of the sloe,
or as the black coal that is on the smith's forge;
or as the sole of a shoe left in white halls;
it was you that put that darkness over my life.
You have taken the east from me; you have taken the west from me;
you have taken what is before me and what is behind me;
you have taken the moon, you have taken the sun from me;
and my fear is great that you have taken God from me!