A Day with James Joyce
IFC - the Irish Film Centre shows Joseph Strick's film version of Ulysses. Though made in 1967, the film was almost immediately banned because of sexual "explicitness" and this is the first time it is shown in Ireland. On the whole, we find the film a flawed masterpiece, the two parts a bit incoherent and shifting the focus to Molly's sexual escapades. Running for 130 minutes, the film seems to deal with single chapters more or less on a 5 minute basis, but then devotes the last 30-40 minutes to the figure of Molly Bloom.
Though this seems a bit out of balance to us, we have to admit that the actors are excellent, and the 1960s setting is quite a good choice. Furthermore, the film shows the structures of the text beautifully. Especially the linking structure of associations, flashbacks and dreams are really well done, e.g. by keeping the camera's focus on one actor but changing the scene around them in short cuts. Strick overuses this technique a little during the second part, especially during the Nighttown episodes, with Leopold's feeverish dreams and Stephen's debaucheries. Still, the audience is captured, being left to find out for itself what is "real" and what is "fiction".
JJC - tonight, Terry Eagleton gives a lecture on "Joyce and Modernism" at the James Joyce Centre. Unfortunately for us, he has decided to start early, as the hall is already crowded an he has another appointment at Trinity later tonight. We sneak in but fortunately find some seats.
Eagleton explains what was typically "modernist" about Joyce's writing - obviously not a great deal - and where he cleary went his own ways in comparison to High Modernism. Among the points mentioned are Joyce's inclination towards the ordinary, his un-elitist and un-fascist ideas. Though, as Eagleton remarks, Joyce made up for that by his sheer arrogance. Eagleton's last point, Joyce's belief in language, is especially interesting for us. Coming form an oral tradition, Joyce didn't share the modernists' scepticism when it came to words and meanings. He strongly believed that even putting words on a page wouldn't fix their meaning once and for all, but leave a space for associations and connotations. Instead of being too serious about each word, like the modernists, or smashing every word to pieces, like the literary avantgarde, Joyce made extensive use of comedy, associations and puns. A fact that clearly lead to the rich "hyperlink" structures Susana pointed out to us during our first visit to the Joyce Centre.
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