Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry
Format: 16mm Colour
Runtime: 99 min
National Film Board of Canada
Considered by many to be Donald Brittain’s best work, Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry is an exposé of the life and times of British novelist Malcolm Lowry and the creation of his novel Under the Volcano, which he wrote in an alcoholic haze while living in Mexico.
The film tells its story in two ways: through Lowry’s own tortured words, read by Richard Burton, and through interviews with friends and family, who helplessly watched Lowry’s self-destruction. Though some have criticized its pedestrian, literal linking of words and images and unrevealing interviews, Volcano is a powerful work that (as one critic wrote) "goes beyond conventional documentary" to reveal "a Picasso-like multi-perspective truth."
Volcano won many awards including a Canadian Film Award for best feature documentary. The film was also nominated for an Oscar.