“In Sunset Song, Terence Davies renders a young woman’s loves and strife with grandeur and austerity.”
This month’s cover of ‘Film Comment‘ features an in depth interview with Terrence Davies on his literary adaptation of “Sunset Song,” Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s 1932 classic widely considered as a seminal Scottish novel. He speaks on everything from discovering the book in the 70’s to the response on this Scottish national treasure being directed by an English director and how much of the political resonance he carried over to the film.
“The film was a challenging project, not least because of the attendant expectations. Set in rural Scotland in the early 20th century, it is based on a 1932 novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, the first part of his trilogy A Scots Quair. The creation of a left-wing writer who emphasizes Scottish cultural and social autonomy, Sunset Song has an iconic status north of Hadrian’s Wall (unsurprisingly, it’s the favorite novel of Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon), but it’s a remarkable work by any measure, eminently modernist in its attention to the materiality of language and to the complex interweaving of personal and public history. Written using an English that incorporates the traditional Doric dialect, it’s crammed with words that will be unfamiliar to many readers—quean for “girl,” meikle for “big” or “much”—while its narrative register veers between the domestic and the cosmic, locating the inhabitants of the fictional Kinraddie, in northeast Scotland, within a broader sweep of history.” (Jonathan Romney, Film Comment)
The full interview can be read here.
“Shot in 65mm widescreen, Davies’ stately, composed aesthetic harks all the way back to DW Griffith and John Ford; old fashioned, perhaps, but tapping into vast reservoirs of feeling.”
“A grand-scale melodrama compressed into the quietly burning point of a single soul.” Richard Brody, New Yorker
“Extraordinary visual grace… lyrical and harrowing.” Geoffrey Macnab, The Independent
“A lyrical triumph.” Mark Kermode, The Guardian