An interesting but flawed attempt
Ludix | Upton, MA United States | 02/13/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I watched this film literally an hour after finishing the book (for the second time).
It ought to be called "Highlights from Portrait of the Artist," because it doesn't attempt to reproduce the full dramatic arc or philosophical argument of the book. Instead, it plays like something from Reader's Digest, offering samples of important scenes, superbly photographed on location in Ireland and very well acted indeed.
Bosco Hogan is perfect as Stephen at University, although he struck me as a bit too old to play the 16-year-old Stephen at Belvedere. T.P. McKenna is outstanding as Simon Dedalus, his father. John Gielgud chews up the scenery deliciously as The Preacher in the famous hellfire sermon, and Desmond Cave does a fine, understated job in the difficult role of Cranly, Stephen's friend.
The selected scenes are presented with the original dialog from the book faithfully preserved. (The Christmas dinner is spot-on perfect.) However, a number of critical scenes are "tossed off" in a rapid, offhand manner which minimizes their importance in the plot. This is especially true of the crucial moment when Stephen sees the girl on the beach and realizes his artistic calling. None of Stephen's inner struggle is apparent, and neither is the magnitude of his visionary breakthrough. He simply glimpses the girl, rips up his vocational prayer card and walks away. It's all over in ten seconds.
The DVD presentation is a bit disappointing. A rather worn print was used for the transfer, and an optical flaw somewhere in the image-processing chain has left a number of "hot spots" or flares on the image that persist throughout the entire movie. Aspect ratio is 1.33:1 (full frame), although some composition problems suggest that the image has been cropped from a wider aspect, probably 1.6:1 European widescreen. The sound is good monaural. (Trivia: PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST was reportedly recorded in true binaural stereo, and was intended to be presented in theaters with stereo headphones for every member of the audience. Announcements were made in the trade press, but the idea never materialized.)
No ninety minute film could ever hope to capture the essence of Joyce's book. Three hours at this level of polish just might do it justice."
Disappointing-filmmaker seems unobjective
john27 | Oswego, NY USA | 10/01/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"James Joyce is notably my favorite author. His writing is enough to move me to deep thought and was a daring endeavor in contrast to what was accepted and expected during his time.This movie was such an injustice to his writing. So very rarely did one get a chance to see what the boy or young man thought of; what his musings were. One could not feel the struggle and turmoil in trying to understand what was right and wrong. The incidents played like flashbacks without the depth of the true Joycean work. For example, the book gives us the harrowing journey to the rector and the anxiety that built up in telling a figure of authority that an injustice was done. In the movie, he strolls down the corridor, tells the rector that he was unjustly pandied, and that was the end of it.The greateast atrocity of all was his seeing the woman in the water. In the book, he comes to the realization that a woman is a thing of beauty, not an object of lust or the detriment to his salvation. He identifies himself as an artist; the epiphany is huge. In the movie he just smiles at her and tears up the priestly vocation.The reason for two stars and not one? Chapter five of the book (was once a separate book called "Stephen Hero") was well done. Now we get to hear the thoughts of the protagonist, his convictions and musings. It is quite obvious in direction that this was the favored aspect of the story. Unfortunately, the very important buildup of the other chapters was all but ignored. This story has such amazing implications for film and was a sheer disappointment through and through. If one wants a wonderful adaption of a Joycean work, be sure to look at John Huston's "The Dead" (from Joyce's Dubliners.)"
Addendum to john27
Gibandila | Madison, WI United States | 12/10/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"...the opaque philosophical walks and pub crawls...I enjoyed them (privately), but they were poorly FILMED until Stephen's JOURNAL entries were narrated with haunting background scene and score. THAT is the film's strength - his mother in the garden, Dedalus facing his old girlfriend, Dedalus pondering the ruddy faced Gaelic speaker in the pub. Superb. ...the white maiden in the water scene... Lust had nothing to do with it. Dedalus sees her as radiant, whole, nearly growing out of the sea, and she is (in my opinion) one of the most etherally beautiful women i've seen on screen. The book's adept treatment of a philosphical jungle - the movie (it's a FILM for God's sake!) did right to avoid it, and yet included it in moderation. I think it's a fine film, but do agree...that a kind of anti-establishment extremism comes out in the movie that i don't quite remember in the book. Indeed, the film overemphasises sexual desires as the main impetus for his maladjustment to the religious life..."
Review of Strick's Portrait
bnf2214 | 06/22/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This film is a much better attempt at filming Joyce than was the 1967 "horror of a film" Ulysses. Here, Strick has come closer to filming the internal thoughts of Joyce's characters. The film itself looks great,I feel. He did a good job of lining up shots that corespond to what one might imagine in the novel. However, the acting was not as good. Perhaps now something as this just seems dated. Who knows? I would hope someone today would want to attempt this again. Overall, better that Ulysses. Another great attempt at filming the works of our centuries most intellegent man. For anyone wanting to expand their view and inturpretation of the novel, this film is a must see."