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Canadian novelist. Malcolm Lowry, wrote one of the major novels of this century, 'Under the Volcano', but is relatively little known outside university and literary circles. Volcano: An Inquiry into the Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry, traces his life in Dollarton. British Columbia. Cuernavaca, Mexico, New York and Sussex; and his gradual disintegration into alcoholism Richard Burton reads from Lowry's work, allowing the writer's own words to set out the framework of his life. His struggles against gin, and his profound doubts are recalled through interviews with his family, his brother, his second wife, friends and drinking acquaintances. Obsessed by thoughts of suicide and fears of syphilis. Lowry finally took his own life in 1957.

The film is directed by Donald Brittain, who has made more than thirty documentaries in Canada. He has won many awards for them, including the Grand Prize at Leipzig, and major awards at Melbourne, San Francisco, New York, Venice and the American Film Festival. Three times winner of the Mulholland Award as the Best Canadian Director, he has been twice nominated for an Academy Award.