Till Human Voices Wake Us (film)

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Till Human Voices Wake Us
Voices wake us ver2.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Michael Petroni
Produced by Thomas Augsberger
Written by Michael Petroni
Starring Guy Pearce
Helena Bonham Carter
Music by Dale Cornelius
Amotz Plessner
Cinematography Roger Lanser
Edited by Bill Murphy
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) 12 September 2002 (2002-09-12)
Running time 101 minutes
Country Australia
Language English
Box office $120,601[1]

Till Human Voices Wake Us is an Australian drama film written and directed by Michael Petroni (Queen of the Damned), and starring Guy Pearce and Helena Bonham Carter.


The film begins with the story of a young 15-year-old boy, Sam Franks, who has returned from a Melbourne boarding school to his hometown in Victoria. He has an obvious affection towards a young local girl, Silvy, who has a disability affecting her legs which requires a brace and prevents her from walking freely. However, this does not stop the two friends from enjoying each other's company, and they are virtually inseparable. Sam's mother has died, and his stern father provides the young boy with little comfort and love, so his relationship with Silvy is all that matters to him. She reads to him regularly out of her beloved poetry book, showing him a world of beauty and harmony within words that he comes to enjoy.

One night, the two decide to go for an aimless ride, and end up at the popular lake. Sam jumps in the water and removes Silvy's leg braces, and together they "dance" in the water. They share a kiss and stare into the stars — everything seems perfect for the two. Suddenly Sam lets go of Silvy's hand to point to a shooting star. After closing his eyes and making a wish, he looks around to find Silvy no longer with him. Frantically searching beneath the tide-pulling water, Sam returns to Silvy's home to tell of the terrible happening. Her body is not found for years, and when it is, it's discovered in a hidden cave beneath the water.

Twenty years later, 35-year-old Sam (Guy Pearce) is teaching psychology at a Melbourne institute when he must return to his hometown to bury his recently deceased father. On the train, Sam briefly meets a pleasant woman who introduces herself as Ruby (Helena Bonham Carter). Sam leaves to talk to the train attendant about his cargo, and when he returns, the woman is nowhere to be seen. That night, in a massive downpour, Sam sees a woman fall from the bridge into the lake below. After rescuing the woman, he recognizes her as the lady, Ruby, from the train. She, however, has lost her memory and can't even remember her own name. However, the woman's behavior and speech lead Sam to believe that this is his childhood friend, Silvy.

Sam hypnotizes "Silvy", and in this state the woman speaks of feelings of being pulled down, lower and lower beneath cold and feeling panic, then warm and comfortable. It appears, then, that Silvy has come back from her death in the form of this woman. The next day, she asks to be taken to her real home. Sam carries her, as her legs are failing her once more; he senses that she will not be with him much longer. Safe and warm in her own bed, Sam reads her the last few lines from her favorite poem (T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock), "Till human voices wake us, and we drown". She finally dies, with a smile on her lips. Sam places her in a boat and releases it into the lake. He swims with it, and when he looks into it, all that remains is his coat that she was wearing. He climbs into the boat as it drifts away. The film ends with the sight of the boat traveling down the lake.

Box office[edit]

Till Human Voices Wake Us grossed $181,921 at the box office in Australia.[2]

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