Under the Volcano follows the final day in the life of self-destructive British consul Geoffrey Firmin (Albert Finney, in an Oscar-nominated tour de force) on the eve of World War II. Withering from alcoholism, Firmin stum... more »bles through a small Mexican village amidst the Day of the Dead fiesta, attempting to reconnect with his estranged wife (Jacqueline Bisset) but only further alienating himself. John Huston's ambitious tackling of Malcolm Lowry's towering "unadaptable" novel gave the incomparable Finney one of his grandest roles and was the legendary The Treasure of the Sierra Madre director's triumphant return to filmmaking in Mexico.« less
Read the book first, then watch the documentary, then see th
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 10/20/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film a while back, and while I liked it, but it never really sent me, despite all the critical acclaim. Years later, I read the book, and the book is light years better than the film. I usually say the opposite, but Lowry's prose is amazing to behold, and this film is a rather straightforward rendering of the novel, which diminishes its power. I would have preferred a more hallucinatory quality to the film, similar to that of the novel. I commend John Huston for tackling such a daunting project. Albert Finney's performance is superb. The film isn't horrible, and it should be seen at least once. The feature, though, just doesn't have what the novel had, which is a shame.
One of the great things about this new Criterion edition is that it contains a rare, rare Canadian documentary called Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life of Malcolm Lowry. This documentary was briefly on VHS, then disappeared for a very long time. I bought it in a used VHS sale at my Blockbuster. I asked them why they were selling it, and they said "it had only been rented once in 2 years" (guess who was the sole renter). It was made at a time where documentaries were very rarely made (and getting them released was even more difficult). It is a remarkable film chronicling one of the most self destructive authors/artists you will ever likely encounter. Many of the images from the film were shot in Mexico during the Day of the Dead celebration, giving this film a strange, surreal vibe that is very effective. Lowry had spent time in Mexico during this celebration, and it had a major impact on his novel. Lowry was a major alcoholic, completely innudated by booze, beyond repair. His life was such a catastrophe in many ways, yet, he somehow wrote one of the greatest novels of the 20th century (which continues to be in print and talked about today). Under the Volcano is the only novel that Lowry really completed during his lifetime, but it's magnificent. This film really delves into Lowry's pysche, and you see the horror of being a man. It's a difficult and painful film, but the filmmakers never turn it into a cheap, sensationalistic film. It's narrated by Richard Burton, who had one of the greatest voices an actor ever possessed. Burton's narration lends a dignity to this film, and to Lowry's life. This is one of the greatest documentaries I've ever seen, and hopefully, it will become better known, thanks to its release on DVD. The documentary on Lowry is better than Huston's film."
Finney is Tops
Raegan Butcher | Rain City, USA | 04/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Albert Finney's performance in this film is masterful! I have never seen anyone, not even Nicolas Cage in LEAVING LAS VEGAS, capture the wild emotional swings and physical tics of a drunk better than Finney does in this film. John Huston uses the atmosphere of Cuernavaca(where I am currently living) very well too.Anyone interested in great film acting should see this movie. Bravo to all involved, especially Mr Finney. He gives a a truly fantastic, award-worthy performance!"
Under the Table
Timothy O. Riley | usa | 10/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"John Huston was 78 when he made Malcolm Lowrey's novel of one man's descent into booze, death and bitterness (south of the border style)into a film. It is well documented-- Author, Lowrey, tortured himself and then wrote a 400 page-- sad-sack account of a British diplomat drinking himself and his soul into oblivion (just before WWll).
Albert Finney gives one of the most devastating portrayals of an intellectual mind pickled in alcohol-- ever captured on-screen. And, the legendary director, John Huston, shoves our faces in it. To be sure, it's beauty with a black-heart. Don't miss it before you die."
A Powerful and emotional rollercoaster
KGustave@webtv.net (Karl Gustave) | Philadelphia | 09/16/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film strikes at the heart with the impact of a Hemingway Novel. The characters get under your skin easily and you find yourself pleading for their release from the demons that haunt them, the demons they have created. Albert Finney gives a superb and command performance. My only question is where is the DVD ??? This is one that belongs in everyones collection."
A marvelous, magical and toxic story in sommernight
KGustave@webtv.net (Karl Gustave) | 07/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have seen this film twice im Germany from TV while I studied for my Ph.d. For the first time wenn I watched the film, I was so deep impressed from the mexican mood and then the capacity of actor and actress. I hoped that I could watch the film again. Once again I could watch the film per TV in Germany. I don't know much about the amerikan Literature. But this film reminds me of some style of Faukner or Tennesy Williams(Sorry for my ugly English)."