Terence Davies, the highly regarded British writer-director, has passed away at the age of 77. Known for his autobiographical films set in his hometown of Liverpool, including “Distant Voices, Still Lives” and “The Long Day Closes,” Davies’ work was deeply infused with personal emotion and experience. His films often explored the challenges of growing up as a gay, Catholic man in the 1950s and ’60s.
Davies’ official Instagram account confirmed his death, stating that he passed away peacefully at home after a short illness. His 2008 feature documentary, “Of Time and the City,” addressed his childhood and the city of Liverpool, employing archival footage, voiceover commentary, classical music, film clips, and poetry to create a poignant and heartfelt portrayal of his personal and familial experiences.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Davies spoke about the emotional process involved in creating the documentary and the difficulties he faced in reconciling his faith with his sexuality. He discussed the guilt he felt as a result of his religion and the societal perception of homosexuality as a sin. Davies’ struggle to balance his faith with his identity was a recurring theme throughout his career.
Davies’ final film, “Benediction,” a biographical drama about World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon, received profound praise. The film openly explored romantic love between men, a theme that had subtly woven through much of Davies’ previous work. His films often contained queer subtext, but “Benediction” marked his first overt exploration of same-sex relationships.
Born in 1945 in Liverpool, Davies was the youngest of ten children in a working-class Catholic family. His father died when he was just seven years old, and his mother’s deep religiosity greatly influenced his upbringing. Davies attended Coventry Drama School, where he wrote the screenplay for his autobiographical short film trilogy.
Despite receiving acclaim and awards at international film festivals, including Cannes, Toronto, and Locarno, Davies faced numerous challenges obtaining financing for his projects. He frequently criticized the British film industry for its focus on mass-market appeal and its lack of support for independent and artistic films. Despite these setbacks, Davies continued to create deeply personal and introspective films.
Davies’ passing is a significant loss for the film industry. His unique blend of personal storytelling, poetic sensibility, and visual aesthetics earned him a dedicated following and an enduring legacy. As Davies once said, “If a film lives every time it’s seen, that’s the real reward.”