Adapted from the brilliant novel by James Joyce, "Ulysses" portrays a stream-of-consciousness day in the life of Leopold Bloom, Molly Bloom, and Stephen Dedalus (the hero of Joyce's earlier autobiographical novel, "A Portr... more »ait of the Artist as a Young Man"). Bloom is an ordinary man, a Jew whose odyssey through the streets of turn-of-the-century Dublin leads him through trials that parallel his classic prototype, Ulysses, on his epic journey home. Molly is his voluptuous, delightfully earthy wife whose infidelity is a major burden Bloom must bear. The intimacy of Joyce's language was without precedent in literature, and its flashbacks, dream episodes, sounds and visual montages translate freely into the language of cinema.« less
"Joseph Strick's Summer of Love version of Ulysses is a film that bursts with some its era's most iconic cinematic hallmarks: intellectual abstraction, Sellers-like comedy, dated provocation, and some Angry Young Man `moody-broody'-ness. But it's also based on what I - and many others - regard as the finest novel of the century, and perhaps of all time. Having mounted such a story with an unpracticed director and an unknown cast, the producers delivered a film that's dated badly, and proves largely of its time.It is not without virtues, though, for Joyceans and otherwise. It was filmed, in luscious black and white, on location, but no effort was made to hide the relative modernity of 1967 Dublin and the post-Victorian trappings of the setting are limited to Milo O'Shea's hat. That fact alone makes the film interesting. It also boasts some amusing directorial asides courtesy of talented dilettante Strick, such as the very subtle insertion of Joyce's headlines into the newspaper scene.Many of the performances are good, and some are indelible: Milo O'Shea is vulnerable, attractive, awkward, comic, tragic, and sometimes simply naturalistic in a tour de force performance that deserved an Oscar and remains his greatest-ever screen showing. To say nothing of his eyebrows, which spread more joy than Molly Bloom's behind. As well, TP McKenna is wonderful as a puckish, hedonistic Buck Mulligan. But most of the cast are too old for the roles they've taken, and some come off poorly, in particular a lead-footed Maurice Roeves as Stephen Dedalus. Joyce fans will likely enjoy a few of the setpieces - the opening in the Martello Tower is nicely handled, and the Cyclops chapter is agreeably deconstructed - but loathe others, especially the appallingly stiff Proteus monologue. Those without any familiarity with the book will likely be lost, and while Molly Bloom's closing monologue is beautifully mounted, outside the context of the novel it has nothing to do with the rest of the film, and it's over a half hour long. The episode in the whorehouse is even longer, underscoring Strick's disagreeably prurient approach to the material. That being said, although this film was banned in Ireland until recently there's little in it that will offend contemporary tastes. This marks the first use of the F-word in a mainstream film, as far as I know, and there's some brief male nudity in the form of Mulligan's mulligan. The rest could play unedited on generally puritan US daytime TV.In general I'd recommend that fans of sixties cinema and Joyceans see this film at least once, but I cannot in good conscience recommend Image Entertainment's insultingly sloppy (and absurdly overpriced) DVD. The picture quality and color is dreary, with chalky whites, fuzzy grays and pockmarked blacks. There is visible flicker in the top-right corner at all times, and even more pronounced flicker accompanying _every single edit_, especially early in the film. The dialogue is mono and muffled and there are no closed captions or subtitles, making the film a tough slog for those who haven't already memorized the (generally faithful) Joycean dialogue. Nor, for that matter, are there any other supplemental features, of any kind! The film is split up into huge, twenty-odd minute blocks, not useful for skipping. Upsetting both Joyce fans and the Joyceless, Strick's Ulysses has always been a film without an audience. Image's lazy package, and $49 list price, aren't helping it find one."
An excellent representation of some aspects of Joyce's novel
Thomas E. Kennedy | Copenhagen, Denmark | 04/09/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Joyce's ULYSSES is one of the great works of literature of this century -- it is also a difficult novel to read. Most readers need help and there are various guidebooks available for this. Another way of accessing the novel is by listening to oral interpretations of it on tape or record or by watching Strick's excellent film tribute to the book. Of course, it could not be possible to get that whole massive work into a couple of hours film -- I doubt that Strick ever intended to. But this film is an excellent introduction to the book, one that I would recommend warmly."
Joyce when you don't have time for the book
James P Mills | Englewood, OH | 01/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wonderful visualization of the basic plotline. Yes, the book does have a plot. Filmed in Dublin, so you see the towers, river, and streets. The production is done with love, for those who couldn't imagine life without this book."
The Streets of Dublin
R. DelParto | Virginia Beach, VA USA | 08/29/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The film adaptation of James Joyce's Ulysses was quite appropriate at the time it was released, 1967, 45 years after the release of the book. The novel was the most controversial and complex books of the 20th century, which involved issues of religion, sexuality, and self as it pertained to Joyce's own life. Joseph Strick attempts to interpret these core issues with the three main characters in the novel, Leopold Bloom (Milo O'Shea), Stephen Dedalus (Maurice Roeves), and Molly Bloom (Barbara Jefford). Indeed, the film reflects the Sixties with its emphasis of "free love," but not without the messiness that comes along with it. The most interesting aspect of the film shows the intelligently done Molly Bloom segment that occupies, roughly, the last 45 minutes of the film.
The cinematography is quite good. Had the film been filmed in color than in black and white, the scenes may not have been effective in conveying parts of the book. Strick does a fine job in capturing the Irish landscape with a postcard-like quality. On a critical note, the film could have received an Ingmar Bergman treatment because the novel/film involves the intricacies of religion and the human condition. However, if Joyce intended to present a humorous narrative, this film accomplishes his intentions.
Overall, Ulysses offers segments of the novel that will help one understand and visualize its main premise. It is not recommended to replace the reading of the actual novel, but rather to supplement it. The movie as well as the novel will be a challenge."
The visuals capture the poetry of one day in Dublin
Kristin J. Johnson | Hilo, Hawaii | 12/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If a movie could do justice to Molly Bloom, this is it.
If a movie could skip the chapter "Nausicaa" and yet capture the longing inside Joyce's characters, the ruin of old Irish castles, the striving of Stephen Dedalus and the trippy wonder of the brothel where Dedalus and Mr. Bloom come together in a kind of mini-Gotterdammerung, this movie is it."