January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

This film (and the novel it is based on) is so rich & complex, to attempt to cite a plot synopsis would be worthless. The nature of this material isn’t easy to summarize, as so many nuances and details surface as the story unfolds, it would take forever to list them all. So instead of trying to give a comprehensive record of this film’s storyline, I will offer a simple overview and allow you to discover the rest on your own. I can assure you the film’s plot is deep and interesting, but I just don’t want to ruin the small touches, as they bring a lot to the movie’s impact. Leopold Bloom (Miles O’Shea) has begun to wander, just taking in the sights and meeting various people along his path. This film tells the story of Bloom’s wanderings for a twenty-four hour period and while that’s not a lot of time, a lot happens in that span. He meets a fellow wanderer, contemplates his life and problems, and in the end, discovers a lot he never knew about himself. But when he returns home, will his life be any different thanks to this trek?

I was doubtful as to how this film would manage the excellent source material from James Joyce’s novel, but in the end this turns out to be a worthwhile motion picture. As is the case with the novel, this material isn’t going to be for everyone, but those who liked the book and have a steady attention span will be interested to be sure. The pace is rather slow and in the end, little happens in terms of action, but the journey is what counts and this film contains a terrific one. A lot is lost in the transition to film of course, but this as true to the source as you can allow, while also keeping the elements in form to adhere to the film format. The actors were well chosen, the screenplay captures the feel on the writing, and on the whole, I think the film compliments the novel well. I do recommend this movie in the end, but I also recommend you check out the novel. This disc is average at best in audio/video terms and lacking in extras, so I think a rental will suffice in most cases.

This film needed an excellent screenplay to do the novel justice and I think cowriters Joseph Strick and Fred Haines did a marvelous turn. Of course you can’t fit it all in here, but the two manage to keep enough in to remain true to the source, while also giving the film some distinct touches as well. This means fans of the novel will be pleased, while newcomers will be able to view the film and understand it, even though they haven’t read the written work. I think this balance is vital to any film based on a book, so I am pleased it was worked so well in this case. I don’t think anyone could have equaled the level of the novel, but these two did a noble effort and it paid off in spades here. Strick also directed this film and he also helmed such films as Tropic Of Cancer, Muscle Beach, Road Movie, The Hecklers, and Criminals. The cast of Ulysses includes Maurice Roeves (The Eagle Has Landed), T.P. McKenna (Percy’s Progress, Longitude), Milo O’Shea (Tv’s Oz, Barbarella), Barbara Jefford (The Ninth Gate, The Saint), and Anna Manahan (Clash of the Titans).

Video: How does it look?

Ulysses is presented in a 2.35:1 widescreen transfer, which is not enhanced for widescreen televisions. This is an above average transfer, but the lack of anamorphic enhancement causes some problems with the image. I saw frequent instances of edge enhancement and while they’re not that serious, I felt it was worth mentioning in this review. The black & white image looks clean though, no real flaws with the source print in the least. The contrast is well tuned also, blacks look dark, but not too much so and lighter shades are well represented. If this were anamorphic it would be much better, but this is still a nice looking visual treatment.

Audio: How does it sound?

The original mono is used and while the audio is clear and shows no problems, the volume is too low in the mix. I had to turn my volume beyond normal setting to take it all in, which causes some slight hiss in the background. This is enough for me to lower the score somewhat, but I think the tradeoff is fair in the end. I do wish it sounded better and was at a more proper volume, but I doubt too many complaints will be voiced.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc contains no bonus materials.

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