It’s hardly surprising that it took 45 years for someone to attempt an adaptation of James Joyce’s dazzling modernist masterpiece that parallels a day in the life of unassuming Jewish advertising man Leopold Bloom with the events of Homer’s Odyssey: it’s a novel that’s the very definition of the term ‘unfilmable’. But Joseph Strick made a BAFTA, Oscar and Golden Globe nominated go of it, helped by some outstanding Irish actors (Milo O’Shea, Maurice Roëves, T.P. McKenna, Sheila O’Sullivan) who are fully alert to the musicality of Joyce’s prose: almost every word in the Oscar-nominated screenplay was taken directly from the book. Wolfgang Suschitzky’s black-and-white photography of authentic Dublin locations brings Joyce’s famously detailed descriptions vividly to life, and Barbara Jefford’s impassioned delivery of Molly Bloom’s notoriously erotic monologue caused such a furore that the film was banned from general release in Ireland until 2000, something that would doubtless have amused Joyce himself.
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