Thursday, May 19, 2011

Huston’s The Dead

by Aoife O'Flynn

In his lifetime as a Hollywood film-maker Huston received fifteen Oscar nominations and was triumphant on two of these occasions. He directed both his father and his daughter to Oscar winning performances. The love he had for both his family and the famous Dublin writer James Joyce gelled well together in 1987 when Huston fulfilled a lifelong dream when he directed Joyce’s The Dead, along side his son Tony (who wrote the screenplay) and daughter Anjelica (who starred in it). In the Huston archive there is a copy of Tony’s diary while recording The Dead and there are humorous remarks in it that show the intimate relationship he had with his father.
The adaptation is based on the final of James Joyce’s short stories in ‘Dubliners’. This film was a must for Huston as he was a great fan of Joyce and his writings. An article in the Huston archive from An Gael magazine informs us that ‘Ulysses’ impacted his life so much that he became a founding member of the Dublin James Joyce Society in the mid fifties.
Again showing his devotion to Ireland, Huston took on the heavy burden of making this, his final film. He persevered and in the Huston archive it unfolds that he even had the set of the Dublin based story constructed in a Californian warehouse where he had moved to improve his health. An extensive amount of material such as photographs, scripts and publicity articles all in relation to Huston’s The Dead lies in Huston’s archive in the James Hardiman Library. It was his swan song and his last homage to Ireland, the country he loved so much.

Donal McCann, Anjelica Huston and John Huston on the set of 'The Dead'

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