With a career that spawned four and a half decades, filmmaker Terence Davies earned the respect of fellow filmmakers and cinephiles alike with his body of work, which often included a personal autobiographical component. It’s been reported that Davies has died at the age of 77, dying peacefully after a short illness.
The news was announced via his official Instagram page on Saturday, Oct. 7 with the statement:
“It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of Terence Davies, who died peacefully at home after a short illness, today on 7th October 2023.
Pulvis et Umbra Sumus
“We are but dust and shadows”
“And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.”
(1945 – 2023)”
Some of his more renowned works of cinema included Distant Voices, Still Lives and The Long Day Closes, often exploring homosexuality and growing up as a gay, Catholic man in Liverpool, England. The filmmaker discussed these things in his 2008 documentary, Of Time and the City, which addressed his childhood and the difficulties he faced in the ’50s and ’60s. The doc premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, having never had a theatrical release in the United States.
Davies was born on November 10, 1945 in Liverpool, the youngest of ten children to working-class Catholic parents, before attending Coventry Drama School for ten years. During his attendance there, he wrote the screenplay for his autobiographical short, Children, the first part of a trilogy that included Madonna and Child (1980) and Death and Transfiguration (1983), which delved into other parts of his life.
Other films in Davies’ illustrious career included The Neon Bible (1995), The House of Mirth (2001), The Deep Blue Sea (2011), Sunset Song (2015), A Quiet Passion (2016), and most recently, Benediction (2021). Reportedly, the director was in pre-production on what would have been his final film, called The Post Office Girl.
Davies’ films received international acclaim for himself and many of his casts, including Oscar winner Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea, receiving mostly film festival prizes at Cannes, Toronto, and Locarno. Cannes awarded Davies’ Distant Voices, Still Lives with its FIPRESCI Prize in 1988, and it also received three European Film Awards nominations.
In 2001, Davies was nominated for BAFTA‘s “Alexander Korda Award for Best British Film” for The House of Mirth, for which he was also nominated for a British Independent Film Award.
Davies never quite broke out in the States as some of his peers, such as Mike Leigh and Ken Loach, but his new films were frequently heralded by critics and other filmmakers of note.