Under the Volcano

NO SE PUEDE VIVIR SIN AMAR (ONE CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT LOVE).

In the late 1930s, British consul Geoffrey Firmin (Albert Finney) spends the Day of the Dead in Mexico drinking heavily, in the presence of his estranged wife and half-brother (Jacqueline Bisset, Anthony Andrews). John Huston’s adaptation of the celebrated novel is faithful and engrossing. On the surface it may look like another simple portrayal of a drunkard’s path to destruction, but the strength of the novel is reflected in the dialogue and the symbol-laden environment. Alex North’s quaint music score also contributes to the ill-boding atmosphere. Finney is absolutely brilliant the year after his equally inebriated effort in The Dresser, but it’s far from a repeat performance.

1984-U.S. 109 min. Color. Produced by Moritz Borman, Wieland Schulz-Keil. Directed by John Huston. Screenplay: Guy Gallo. Novel: Malcolm Lowry. Music: Alex North. Cast: Albert Finney (Geoffrey Firmin), Jacqueline Bisset (Yvonne Firmin), Anthony Andrews (Hugh Firmin), Ignacio Lopez Tarso, Katy Jurado, James Villiers.

Trivia: Richard Burton was allegedly considered for the lead.

Last word: “Albert would do something, [he and Huston] would both look at each other and they would crack up in laughter. Both knew that whatever had happened was awful. And so they did it over. Hardly a word was exchanged. Sometimes, John would shake his head and Albert would change completely in the next take. Or John would nod affirmatively, and Albert would smile. That was their sign language.” (Executive producer Michael Fitzgerald, The New York Times)

 

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