Synopsis by Hal Erickson
A strange, hallucinatory adaptation of the Malcolm Lowry novel of the same name, John Huston's bleak drama is set during the Mexican "Day of the Dead" ceremony in 1939. Albert Finney stars as Geoffrey Firmin, the booze-besotted former British consul to Cuernevarca, who has cut himself off from his loved ones, the better to drink himself to death while surrounded by all manner of skull-and-skeleton decorations. At the urging of his wife Yvonne (Jacqueline Bisset), his half-brother Hugh (Anthony Andrews) goes on a "heart of darkness" search for his missing sibling. Novelist Lowry was himself a suicidal alcoholic, who poured every drop of his embittered philosophy into the Firmin character. If any director could bring Lowry's difficult novel to life, it was Huston, whose own record for drunken self-destruction is the source of legend. (Huston was actually the seventh director to tackle the novel, which had originally been optioned in 1957 by actor Zachary Scott.) Artists contributing to the fascinating Under the Volcano include the brilliant Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, screenwriter Guy Gallo, composer Alex North, and director Emilio Fernandez, cast in a significant cameo as a bartender.
alcoholism, diplomat, family, self-destruction, suicide
High Artistic Quality