Celluloid Joyce

And roll away the reel world, the
reel world, the reel world!

The Brazen Volta
Welcome to The Brazen Volta, a small theatre specializing in Joycean cinema. I must confess, the program is a bit limited, but it certainly makes holding a Joyce film festival an easy affair! So grab a bag of popcorn, let me take your ticket, and mind your hats goan in! But first, a few words from our sponsor.

The Cinematic Joyce
Joyce has always been fascinated by the world of film. In 1909, with the aid of some professionals from Trieste, he opened the Volta, the first cinema in Dublin. Later on in life he discussed the filming of Ulysses with the great Sergei Eisenstein, and even contended that certain episodes of Finnegans Wake could be adapted to the screen. Indeed, he often incorporated cinematic techniques into his narrative, including flashback, montage, and dissolving scenes.
But despite this, there is a noticeable lack of films based on Joyce's oeuvre -- which really isn't all that surprising. The characteristics which make Joyce's books so amazing as works of literature are the exact things which sabotage any attempt to translate them into film. But what may seem like an impossibility to one director may seem like an intriguing challenge to the next, and so a few intrepid directors have indeed produced films based on Joyce's work, and the results vary from resounding successes to frustrating failures. This section of the Brazen Head will explore some of these attempts.

The Films
Following each of the below links will take you to a page dedicated to the film.

Book Adaptations

Passages from Finnegans Wake (1965) -- A surreal series of montages adapted from Finnegans Wake.

Ulysses (1967) -- Joseph Strick's controversial, modern-day setting of Ulysses.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1979) -- Joseph Strick's film of Joyce's first novel.

The Dead (1987) -- John Huston's last film, a haunting adaptation of the final Dubliners story.

bl,.m (2003) -- Stephen Rea stars as Leopold Bloom in Sean Walsh's cinematic Ulysses.

Inspired by Joyce

James Joyce's Women (1985) -- Fionulla Flannagan plays an array of "Joyce's women," real and fictional.

Nora (1999) -- A biopic of James and Nora, adapted from Brenda Maddox's book.

A Shout from the Streets (2000) -- A short indie film inspired by Ulysses.

Pitch 'n' Putt with Beckett and Joyce (2001) -- A three-minute Irish short, Beckett and Joyce play miniature golf while awaiting W.B. Yeats.


Ten Great Writers, Vol. 7: James Joyce (1988) -- An educational video.

Famous Author Series: James Joyce (1996) -- An educational video.

James Joyce: The Trials of Ulysses (2000) -- Details both Joyce's struggle with writing the book and its troubled publishing history.

Bloomsday Cabaret (2004) -- A documentary on Joyce and his love of music. (In the making: this is an off-site link.)

Joyce to the World (2004) -- A documentary on the Bloomsday Centennial. (In the making: this is an off-site link.)

Additional Resources

IMDB "Joyce" Page -- The Joyce page on the Internet Movie Database.

--Allen B. Ruch
24 March 2004

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