Mary Ellen Bute 1906-1983
Passages from Finnegans Wake – 1965-67
Duration: 90 min
Passages from James Joyce's Finnegans Wake
Directed by Mary Ellen Bute
Screenplay by Mary Manning
Cinematography by Ted Nemeth
Music by Elliot Kaplan
Cast (in alphabetical order)
Ray Flanagan . . .Young Shem
Peter Haskell . . . Shem
Page Johnson . . . Shaun
Martin J. Kelley . . . Finnegan
Jane Reilly . . . Anna Livia
There are currently no copies of this film availabe on VHS or DVD.
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.