The Long Day Closes (1992) Poster

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MarioB19 May 2001
This is one of the most beautiful movie I ever seen. This is a masterpiece of intelligence and cinematography. Splendid camera work and a brillant integration of music and bit of spoken words. It also captures the essence of childhood. It's simply pure poetry. Remember that films are made to be seen: in early days, it was moving pictures. Here we have that essence: we see pictures. No need to listen, no need of dialogues : just pictures, as beautiful as a painting, as photography. I'm very happy that the other viewers loves this film. But I'm a little bit sad to see that it just got 6 or something out of 10 votes. See it again and again. Taste it a lot of times.
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I couldn't believe what I was seeing....
juanidis7 February 2007
I remember that in 1992 I went into the cinema to see a film. The hall was full and I had to choose another film to see. I entered a hall to see "The long day closes" with no information what it was about nor about its director. Soon at the first image of the opening titles I was amazed at the quietness, the beauty and the profound emotion of what it was going to come. But what came was even better than what I was expecting. I still remember the scene in which the boy rests his head into his mother's breast as she sings an old song. It is one of the most moving images I've seen in cinema. I've always remembered that film and kept it very profoundly into my heart. It touches you...or you simply ignore it. It is for human beings not for cinema experts. Thanks for listening to me.
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Vermeer in every frame, and not a note of emotional falseness
pdxdennisj10 August 2006
A stunning exercise in pure cinema. This is the third and final part of his autobiographical Childhood Trilogy. He uses very a very stylized presentation of snippets of memory (Proust-like) overlaid with snips of movie soundtracks and songs to evoke the emotional content of coming to terms with himself in a loving family (at last). If you have seen Visions of Light, this is what it was all about. There is not a wasted frame in this film. Beautifully conceived jump shots, sound over lays and an overhead tracking jump shot that is simply amazing. If you a looking for a plot line or "story telling" you will not find it here. If you are looking for amazingly true and honest cinema that is like moving frames of Vermeer, this is for you.
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A magnificent piece of "stream of consciousness" cinema.
gordian05 December 2000
If you need a conventional plot line to enjoy a film, this one is not for you. If you enjoy outstanding cinematography and would like to have the experience of slipping into someone else's consciousness as their mind drifts from recollection to recollection, you will find this film magical. Set in post war England, this film is a lovely, poetic portrait of the day to day life of one family as seen through the eyes of a ~12 year old boy. It's true that the boy is going through a lonely and difficult period of his life but, one also experiences the sweetness of his loving family and the fellowship of a close knit neighborhood community. It is a view of common people finding hope and joy in each other amidst the hardships of post war England. The inspired combining of sound, imagery, and music make for a very rich film experience.
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Poetry on Film
scr1ve20 October 2000
If you see poetry as a way of looking at life- a particular awareness or appreciation perhaps- then this film is about as close as you can get to a representation of poetry on film (along with Davies earlier- and quite similar biographical film- 'Distant Voices, Still Lives').

Memory sometimes reduces things into metonymy, and this could be used to explain the beautiful simplicity of the visuals- usually emphasising a certain aspect of living- time passing, light hitting a surface etc... bringing it out of obscurity and making the viewer focus singularly on that aspect... which is why this film could be labelled transcendental. Things that pass, or are taken for granted in everyday life transcend themselves in this film.

If you have enjoyed this film I would strongly recommend that you see 'Distant Voices, Still Lives' as well as the great works of directors such as Robert Bresson and Andrei Tarkovsky- examples of other directors whose gaze turns life into poetry.
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Wistful and beautiful.
e-carson4 April 2005
This movie has given me many hours of pleasure. Remarkably it offers nostalgia for places I have never seen and experiences I have never had. Do not seek fast moving excitement or slick dialogue when you go to see this film, but be prepared to wallow in its sad, wistful beauty. If you are a person who fares best in jovial company then perhaps this is not for you but if you have ever felt alone, or sad without knowing quite why, then you will recognise the chief character, Bud, played to perfection by Leigh McCormack. Of the many children appearing on our screens, often applauded excessively in my opinion, this child has to be one of the best in assuring the integrity of the project. There is no unnecessary music in the film but it is filled with gems which add to the overall feeling of nostalgia, as do the short soundtrack clips from cinema of the period. It is possible to switch this film on at any point and watch for a while as you might stand in front of a painting, but once I have started my VCR I cannot resist watching it in its entirety from the elegance of the title frames, through its succession of windows and its constant rain, to the inevitable fading of the light as the "long day closes".
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A heartbreaking, wondrous meditation on childhood
Bockharn23 August 2001
By some definition, this is a great film. It is as "still" as any movie I've ever seen (rivaled, perhaps, only by BARRY LYNDON), meditative, thoughtful. The soundtrack of pop tunes is part of the content of the film: remembered music, remembered frights, remembered ease. Director Terence Davies, in recalling his youth in Britain in the 1950s, has filmed a metaphor for growing up that resembles TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, plus color, minus the melodrama. This film will definitely not be to everyone's taste, but for those who are of the right age and sensibility, it may be a transforming experience.
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A Beautiful Film
roblenihan2 March 2005
"The Long Day Closes" has the kind of emotional impact that the Hollywood bunch could only dream about. There is very little in the way of plot--just a series of memories, as if a family photo album had come to life: like the family at Christmas time. No forced, artificial story lines, like Mama's Dying and We Gotta Pay the Rent--just a perfect rendering of a certain family at a certain time. If you're expecting some sappy tear-jerker, oh boy, do you have the wrong movie. The images here are so powerful, the use of music and old film dialog is so effective. I feel sorry for people who found this movie boring. You obviously didn't get it. Your loss.
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wonderfully visual
Troyboy2 November 1998
In reading reviews of this film, I often came across criticisms such as lack of character development and plotless to the point of boring, but this film is anything but so. At times it can slow down and lose your attention, but if you keep paying attention to all 84 minutes of it, it is ultimately a rewarding film; one of the most rewarding I've seen in a while. Films are a visual medium and reliance on the other arts (such as the script) can often deter from what pure film can do. Through beautiful cinematography, camera angles and compositions, Davies gives a portrait of childhood more heartbreaking and affecting than most I've seen. Every shot melts into the next one with such precision, it's as if poetry is being written with a camera. Music flows through the film with the same precision, creating a profound emotional effect in every scene. Though the acting is minimal, the mother and Bud (Marjorie Yates and Leigh McCormack) are faultless. Bud's childhood obviously mirrors the director's own life. He is a shy and sensitive boy who many don't understand (except for his family) and who is dismissed by many of his peers as a "fruit." Bud's possible blossoming homosexuality is handled very subtly. As a matter of fact, everything about this film is subtle, including his love of the movies which is rarely merely shown on the screen. Much of the film is suffused with bits of dialogue and songs from films, showing that this is a part of his life. Whenever Orson Welles' narration from The Magnificent Amberson's comes on, you feel warm contented, just as Bud seems to be. You feel certain that this boy will become a great filmmaker some day. And he did.
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Film making at its zenith
jcstevens94 August 2005
Its been said that everyone has a wonderful book in them, if they only had the skill to bring it out. Terence Davies has made several quality films, but The Long Day Closes is his personal masterpiece. Evocative, nostalgic, the film depicts a childhood lost and sweetly remembered at a time and in a nation struggling to right itself following a devastating war. Davies abandons traditional film-making and works from intuition and powerful memories to create something truly special and magnificent. Certainly not for everyone. If you are moved primarily by American Idol, Wrestlemania and NASCAR pileups, and if your idea of nostalgia is reruns of Happy Days, this movie would be a waste of your time.
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A beautiful film of family life.
tonyglad28 October 1998
This is among the ten best films I have seen of childhood and of life in a family. Admittedly, the father is missing - one might say, mercifully - but this film shows the tenderness and humanity among the mother and children tenderly and, surprisingly, joyfully. The mother is the centre of the piece and superbly portrayed. For those who want a vision of childhood, not romanticized, this is as good as it can get.
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Demanding and rewarding
chrisf-16 December 2004
This film highlights the cultural gap between the US and the UK - an astonishing, demanding and intelligent film that will only appeal to those with European knowledge or sensitivity to a specific time and location. It's actually the third part of a trilogy, the first two being 'Distant Voices' and 'Still Lives'. Together they make up one of the most unique documents about growing up in the North of England. The pace is measured and takes some time getting used to, but these award-winning films keep their power no matter how many times you watch them. Shot on a shoestring over several years, this last part is about the power of cinema, family, friends and memories.
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It fails to meet my personal standard of a film worth seeing
irvthom1-118 May 2007
It's kind of fascinating to me that so many reviewers consider this a masterpiece. I am not a dullard as far as quality films go, and I will agree that from a technical filming standpoint, as well as for several of the characters portrayed, the film is in an award-worthy class. But there is no sense (for me) of this film actually going anywhere; I mean, taking the viewer anywhere. It is a series of mood scenes, perhaps remarkable as such, but I want more from a film. I look for story and movement and a fulfillment of arrival, none of which did I find in this film. Yes, it might be considered poetry on film . . . but there is much poetry that I cannot live with for the same reason: that it paints pictures without going anywhere.

One thing further to be said is that it documents a mid-century English childhood, which is necessarily limited in its universality. I was personally appalled at what a young British boy had to live through, in that time and place. Having grown up in America just a decade earlier, I can authoritatively say that the contrast is immense. I cannot help wondering if this contrast has had some effect on those reviewing the film so favorably. In other words, could there be a tendency to judge the film entirely on its 'filmic magic' (which I acknowledge is there) and completely ignore its lack of relevance to the nature of one's actual recalled experience?
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The most perfect cinematic realization of "the closet"
homo_superior1 August 2001
My one-line summary might seem to limit one's approach to Terence Davies' magnificent meditation; however, I stand by my assessment: this is the richest (visually and emotionally) and most rewarding cinematic rumination on awakening self-awareness that English-speakers currently have. Though highly personal, there's more here in a single sequence on the loneliness and isolation of realizing and growing into one's queerness, one's affinity with a particular bent of art and aesthetics than the entire oevre of Peter Greenaway. Like Jarman, but at once both more poetic and passionate, The Long Day Closes is non-linear, meant to be savored one aching moment at a time.
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Quite simply a masterpiece
stevenkossowicz26 March 2003
Through the use of music,soundtracks of films,minimal dialogue,imaginative lighting and camerawork,the director Terence Davies recreates the lost world of his childhood in 1950s Liverpool. The film is nostalgic but never sentimental and Davies has the marvelous gift of making the mundane poetic.Quite simply a masterpiece and a film that deserves to be better known. It should be in anybodys 100 best films of all time: it's certainly in mine.
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Very good, but it pales in comparison to Distant Voices, Still Lives
Sergeant_Tibbs6 May 2014
Terence Davies followed his masterpiece debut Distant Voices, Still Lives with The Long Day Closes, a meditation on his adolescence. It follows a very similar style with a series of surreal but verite vignettes of 1950s life mixed with familiar songs. It's more polished than Distant Voices, often having some incredibly impressive camera moves, but with removing that grime comes its downfall. The film lacks vital drama. Even with Distant Voices' scattered scenes, there's conflict in every one of them. The suffering in The Long Day Closes seems internal or invisible and it's difficult for the film to communicate its intense feelings through the characters and atmosphere. While some delightful contrasts are made between home, school and cinema, the solace of the movies don't have their impact without a reason to need them. Perhaps the film should've steered far away from Distant Voices' style as it feels like a watered down version, revealing too much and saying too little. However, its intricate production and sensitive aesthetic make it a worthwhile if overly subdued viewing. I hope Davies' other films are more satisfying.

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An exquisite film about the love of film
Swithin22 April 2005
This quiet, thoughtful gem of a movie depicts the life of a boy and his family in the north of England in the mid 1950s. It reflects, perhaps, the childhood of the filmmaker, Terence Davies, and the importance that movies can have on one's development. The sounds and images of the film are stunning. They include Nat King Cole's "Stardust Memories;" an audio excerpt from "The Ladykillers" -- "Mrs. Wilberforce, I understand you have rooms to let...;" -- and a lengthy scene consisting of an overhead tracking shot -- kids in school, church, and the cinema. The audio for that scene is the song "Tammy," sung by Debbie Reynolds.

"The Long Day Closes" depicts in a particularly effective and evocative way, the cinema as a place of worship and a source of inspiration.
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A Stardust Melody? (the Memory of Love's Refrain)
wes-connors26 November 2007
Almost any scene of this film, shown in isolation, would suggest it is a masterpiece. But, the entire movie is setting -- a story never really happens. Director Terrance Davies, cinematographer Michael Coulter, and actor Leigh McCormack create very beautiful, sad world for a sensitive boy named Bud. The film is flawless, but don't expect a traditional film plot. "The Long Day Closes" is like watching a piece of art; sometimes the camera lingers over images so long, it's like you're looking at a still picture.

Watching the film, in one sitting, I thought the "Tammy" part was a highlight -- it had me guessing about where "Bud" was: church, school… It also moved the setting up to 1957 (I looked up the Debbie Reynolds movie); earlier, I thought the film might take place in the 1940s. Marjorie Yates and the supporting cast were wonderful. The "crucifixion" scene was most startling; it suggests Christianity may have inflicted more harm than good, on this family. Still, nothing really happened to get me interested what was going on, in the story, I am only a child, myself. I will, absolutely watch for the name Terence Davies, and look for his other work; he is a phenomenal filmmaker, obviously.

******* The Long Day Closes (5/22/92) Terence Davies ~ Leigh McCormack, Marjorie Yates, Anthony Watson
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A magnificent film, laced with visual delights.
alphecca30 September 2007
I first saw this film back in London, purely by chance during one of my days off work when I dipped out of the rain around Leicester Square. I am glad it rained, for I may have missed this cinematographic masterpiece. The film touches chords deep within the soul and speaks to the nostalgic in us, stirring dormant and long-forgotten memories of childhood. There is very little in the way of plotting, and the dialogue is minimal, but the film contains a rare magic that goes beyond words. The Long Day Closes borders on the exquisite, and I cannot find words to fully describe the impact it made on me. Lacking violence, profanity and abuse, the film is a gem, and it sparkles deep in the mind long after it has been seen. - Peter
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Let go and let the film flow over you
ksandness7 November 2009
I saw this film with a group of friends, and people either loved it or hated it. As we discussed our reactions, it became clear that the people who hated it were looking for a plot and tuned out when they realized that there wasn't one.

I felt somewhat the same way at first until I realized what Terence Davies was doing: He was filming childhood memories and fantasies exactly as he recalled them, with an emphasis on the differences between 1990s Britain and the Britain of his childhood: his sisters washing their hair in the sink and then going out on bicycles on a Saturday evening, homemade musical entertainments, and so on. Some memories were fragmentary, while others were more extensive.

Once I realized what he was doing, I just sat back and let the beautifully shot images and evocative music flow over me. It was like peeking into someone else's mind and living bits of his everyday life. The movie stayed with me for a long time, and I began delving into my own childhood memories, wondering what they would look like on film.
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Davies' haunting and very memorable recollection of years gone by is a winner.
johnnyboyz25 March 2009
The Long Day Closes is a really eloquent piece, a film that tiptoes along the fine line that separates film from documentary as you gradually realise Terrance Davies could well be recreating not his own childhood but his own childhood memories. The film is a docu-drama of sorts; allowing us scenes that would be able to worm their way into any period-piece film from this era but pausing for its director/narrator to document the protagonist's feelings and views on the world around him. Similalry to the only other Davies film from around this time that I've seen, that being Distant Voices Still Lives, The Long Day Closes is a celebration just as it is a reconciliation of times gone by; delivered in bouts of dream-like scenes and haunting colours that are complimented by Davies' assured narration.

Most of the brilliance regarding those scenes lie in just how much is revealed and when. The boy at the centre of the film is Bud (McCormack), an eleven year old in 1950s Liverpool as living at home, school, trips to the cinema and general loneliness lie within and around him. Some scenes are longer and more drawn out than others, echoing that some memories within us are longer or clearer than others. Most glimpses of past times within our sub-conscious are brief affairs: something someone said; a particular emotion when something happened; an expression on someone's face. Here, Davies fleshes out some but shies away from others and whilst this isn't a robbing of the audience, what it is, is evidence to support this is as true-a depiction as possible based on the makers own recollections.

Some scenes in particular I'm reminded of is the sequence during which a school teacher stands at a blackboard and outlines different types of erosion. The take is much longer than most others and particular details are fed to us, much in the same manner with a conversation between two people in the kitchen about half way through when one of them begins to do impressions of famous people – particular emphasis is drawn to fine details, something the film does not feed us an awful lot of so when it does, it stands out.

A scene that works in favour of Davies' approach that points out some occasions are more memorable to this boy than others is a scene in which an immigrant from the Caribbean accidentally enters the family's property and is ushered out in a hostile manner. The film pauses for the recollection of this memory but does not linger for the aftermath when tensions have been risen and degrees of aggression and urgency have come about during which certain family members must've interacted with one another about the event. Maybe they did, but Bud (or Davies) does not remember and we don't get to see them, even if they probably did occur.

So rather than robbing the audience of what might've been quite an interesting scene, Davies uses his artistic license to skip over such scenes and move on. When it comes to the British film industry and our 'period' films or 'heritage' films that recount years gone by, the usual first port of call is the Merchant Ivory department or something like Elizabeth or Pride and Prejudice. While these are all fine and everything, it is period films like The Long Day Closes that will always be better; as a recounting of events by someone who was actually there and is documenting what it was like to grow up and, ultimately, live at a specific time. While Pride and Prejudice is all fine and good, it does veer more towards escapism than anything because no one that is around either now or was in 2005, will ever know first hand what it was like living at the time these period dramas were set. Davies' film is the more honest, the more realistic, the more enjoyable and, ultimately, the more memorable film.

The film's key scenes that permit familiarity lie in the iconography of doors and windows, enabling Bud to 'look' out of them or enter through them as Davies 'looks' back and documents. The rain blows in and the snow rages by, maybe there was an occasion it was heavier one day than the last. Doors – we make our way through the dining room doors and we see the family readying to eat a Christmas dinner; such an image is no doubt part of the narrator's memory, as it may be with everyone's. Perhaps we all remember a particular storm from our childhood that was more vicious than any other, or a snowfall that was the deepest we'd ever seen. Davies does, it seems, and he brings it to a cinema screen using the approach that he does.

One of the more sly occasions that Davies includes is the scene in which I'm sure someone refers to Bud's mother as 'Mrs. Davies'. Such a citation surely emphasises further than most of this piece was based around Davies' childhood if the mother of the boy we're seeing it from was named as such. The Long Day Closes is very much worth the time, a recounting of 1950s Liverpudlian life as told by someone who was there, not a ho-hum escapist fable about romance between girls hundreds of years ago – it is real and stylish and extremely rewarding.
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Cinematic beauty
filmly18 April 2007
London's NFT recently showed this again for its Terence Davies season. The cinema was packed. It's simply one of the most beautiful films ever made. It uses so many devices to full effect. One scene blends into another; a school room darkens and as the camera pans across, the desks become rows of cinema seats.

On a budget, Davies employs so many creative tricks to recreate the 50s, sewn together by memories, through fading light and vignettes, choral music and period songs, and snatches of movie dialogue from the past.

The film is a paean to cinema and makes you feel nostalgic for a time and place you weren't even in.
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An impressionistic memory piece about a young boy growing up in working-class Liverpool in the 1950s.
khanbaliq218 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The story is about an 11 year old boy who grows up in post-war Liverpool, coping with bullying at school, regularly going to the cinema and taking part in family life.

The Long Day Closes is a genuine British masterpiece, a film in love with films and the sense of release and escape they can bring to mundane lives. Director Terence Davies re-creates in painterly detail the daily life of his 11 year old hero, and the specific time, when Britain was moving gradually away from post-war austerity and ration books, and daring to look forward to a more hopeful future. Bud's love affair with Hollywood, and the evocative, romantic pop songs that flood his house, function as more than mere nostalgia; they are formative sights and sounds in a young life. This understated but deeply emotional film captures its era with a melancholy affection. It was entered into the 1992 Cannes Film Festival.
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This long movie is boring
Lawrence-206 July 2001
I was expecting some indie cinematic masterpiece. I was disappointed. My friend and I watched this in awe as scene after scene put us to sleep. There is a shot of a rug in a boring washed out room that just hangs on forever, no panning, no nothing, just a shot of a rug, for about a minute. People will either consider this film a work of art or a waste of time. Me? A waste of time. We did laugh out loud at the pretentiousness of it all though. I use this as an example that all critically acclaimed films that didn't make a lot of money are not, by that definition, great. This one stinks.
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A Masterpiece
JohnD6125 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I use the word "masterpiece" very rarely, but this film earns it. The cinematography and use of music is brilliant throughout. It is true that this film does not have a plot as we normally define it. This is film about memories of growing up--those small moments that mean so much, that we remember forever. There is a series of scenes in the last third of the film set to "Tammy" as sung by Debbie Reynolds that is incredibly beautiful. It begins with the boy swinging back and forth on a rod, then morphs into rows and rows of church pews, then rows of the boys in their desks at school and finally to the sidewalk that runs outside the boy's house. The boy walks outside and sees some other boys playing and running past. The boy watches them go and the look of loneliness on his face is heartbreaking. That scene is only one of many that shows a master of cinema at work. This film is truly a masterpiece.
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