The trilogy’s first film, Children, follows the struggles of Robert Trucker (Phillip Mawdsley), a young boy who attends the Coventry Drama School and deals with bullying on a daily basis. He is berated, marginalized, insulted and even beaten by the rest of his classmates, but is also ignored or ridiculed by his professors. The hostile environment causes Robert to become introverted, quiet and afraid of people, constantly being on edge and waiting for the next attack. Unfortunately, his home is also abusive, as his father (Nick Stringer) is ill, but fiercely violent both with his child and his wife. Robert eventually grows up to be a troubled young man (Robin Hooper).
Madonna and Child explores Tucker’s life as an employee in a draining, tedious office job. The man (Terry O’Sullivan) still lives with his mother (Sheila Raynor) and has emotional outbursts that seemingly come out of nowhere. However, his loneliness, abusive background and constant isolation are clearly at the root of his desperation. After Tucker gives his confession to a priest, it becomes apparent that he is also struggling with his sexuality and identity. But he does not fit in with the conventional straight people, nor with the community from the underground gay clubs.
The third film, Death and Transfiguration, follows Robert through the process of grief. Now a fully grown man, Tucker is present at his mother’s funeral and attempts to deal with her death. As an old man (Wilfrid Brambell), he remembers the traumas of his childhood and the suffering he endured. Approaching his death, Robert is now in a nursing home during Christmas Eve.
“The films simply but powerfully examine sexual and emotional repression, Catholic guilt, confusion, grief, and the simmering hatred and despair incubated by a life of fear and lies in the closet.”
— Only In The Cinema
“Not so much an ‘I had it tough’ catalogue of economic and physical hardships as a strangely stirring account of human dignity triumphing over emotional and spiritual confusion.”
— Time Out
“His Trilogy is perhaps his most pure and challenging work, both for him and us, I shouldn’t wonder and it is interesting to consider it in light of what he would come to do in his features.”
— Movie Goose
Did You Know?
Terence Davies’ core principle as a filmmaker is to “experience life; good and bad”. His comprehensive trilogy came about when the director was only sixteen years old and was attending a drama school from Coventry. Being part of a working-class Catholic family, Terence had a rough childhood and grew up to be a distressed gay man. The three films featured in The Terence Davies Trilogy have several autobiographical elements. Review our Gay Themed Films Here