Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry

Frames of Mind: Madness of the Muses
Wednesday, October 18th – 7:30pm
Canada 1976 . Directors: Donald Brittain, John Kramer
Intense journey into the tortutred life of one of the great modern writers.

“All poets are mad.” – Robert Burton, The

English writer Malcolm Lowry (1909-57) exorcised his demons through writing and gin,
all the while fearing he would be engulfed by his fiction. Opening in
sobering fashion with the inquest into Lowry’s “death by misadventure”
(a coroner’s jury cited his death as “the result of combined effects of
gin, barbiturates and inhalation of stomach contents”), the film moves
back in time to trace one writer’s agonized voyage into oblivion.
Lowry’s darkly humorous words, spoken here by Sir Richard Burton,
swirl around spellbinding images shot in Mexico, the United States,
Canada and England. Much of the film centres around Lowry’s writing of Under the Volcano, an intensely autobiographical study of an alcoholic’s descent into hell. Volcano took 14 years to write, and was finally published in 1947, when Lowry and his second wife Margerie Bonner,
were living in a shack in North Vancouver, on the beach at Roche Point,
in what is now Cates Park. (The footage of 1970s era Vancouver is
priceless.) More than a biography of a writer, Volcano: An Inquiry Into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry
is an exploration of the greater agonies of mankind. The film won six
Canadian Film Awards (the forerunner to the Genies), including Best
Documentary, and was also nominated for the Oscar.
Colour, DigiBeta. 99 mins.

Special thanks to the National Film Board of Canada

Frames of Mind is a monthly film event utilizing film and video
to promote professional and community education on issues pertaining
to mental health and illness.

Post-screening discussion with Ramon Kubicek.
A writer, artist, and educator, Ramon currently teaches film history as
well as art and design history at Emily Carr Institute and Langara
College. He has published essays, short fiction, poetry, criticism, and
two books on art, including One Source: A Celebration of Spirit and Art.

Moderated by Dr. Harry Karlinsky,
Director of Continuing Medical Education and Professional Development,
Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia.

Anatomy of Melancholy (1621)