Monday, December 21, 2009

Passages from Finnegans Wake (1965)




"A half-forgotten, half-legendary pioneer in American abstract and animated filmmaking, Mary Ellen Bute, late in her career as an artist, created this adaptation of James Joyce, her only feature. In the transformation from Joyce's polyglot prose to the necessarily concrete imagery of actors and sets, Passages discovers a truly oneiric film style, a weirdly post-New Wave rediscovery of Surrealism, and in her panoply of allusion - 1950s dance crazes, atomic weaponry, ICBMs, and television all make appearances - she finds a cinematic approximation of the novel's nearly impenetrable vertically compressed structure.

With Passages from Finnegans Wake Bute was the first to adapt a work of James Joyce to film and was honored for this project at the Cannes Film Festival in 1965 as best debut."

Movie embedded from ubu.com
Torrent available from Greylodge
Soundtrack available from WFMU

2 comments:

Bogus Magus said...

What a truly extra-ordinary and wonder-full find, Bobby!

A real gift for the season - the most fun I had in 90 minutes for a long time...

Who will help the Wisdom Son?
The combination of Irish accent to lift out the pun and the language; to lift the language off the page and place it in a bar (as a good production of Shakespeare turns mere script-words into 'human reality'); the surrealist imagery that film can do, and so rarely does (I have been reading The Magic of Orson Welles again); elucidation, dare I say?; did Paddy McGoohan see this before he made The Prisoner a couple of years later? (You can see a Village vehicle at about 71 minutes in, and the theme of endless return, and 'is it a dream?' remain crucial elements of that series); 'the secret workings of nature'; 'Merry Reincarnations to you all!'

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for having recovered and posted this! If only it were available on DVD.

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