Cinema: Noble Ruin

UNDER THE VOLCANO Directed by John Huston Screenplay by Guy Gallo

The charitable rationale for Geoffrey Firmin's alcoholism is that it constitutes a heroic refusal. Rather than embrace the political, social and religious delusions that draw the masses toward self-destruction, he prefers the company of his private demons. The less kindly reading of Geoffrey's character is that he is yet another example of a familiar type: a pretentious and self-pitying drunk.

Approaching the screen adaptation of Malcolm Lowry's complex novel, one anticipated a worst-case scenario in every sense of the word. The last gloomily adventurous 24 hours of the onetime...

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