Blot Out the Sun

Harrell Fletcher

2002 | 00:22:13 | United States | English | Color | Stereo |

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Labor, Literature, Performance

A garage in central Portland, Oregon is the setting for this conceptual re-working of James Joyce’s Ulysses. The garage owner Jay, mechanics and neighborhood denizens serve as narrators, reading lines from the novel that focus on death, love, social inequality and the relationship between individuals and the universe.

"Fletcher had heard through a friend that Jay, the gas-station proprietor, harbored a dream to make a movie about his place, its employees and its customers, and wanted it to be projected on the wall for anyone to see. He didn’t want to shoot the movie, or to be in it, he just wanted it all to happen at his gas station. 'I asked Jay if he had any ideas about what kind of a movie it would be,' says Fletcher. 'At first I couldn’t believe it: He said he pictured it to be sort of like Ulysses by James Joyce. I hadn’t read Ulysses. I thought, ‘okay, if Jay read it, then maybe I should, too.’ " With only three weeks to work, Fletcher scrambled to find the right filmic form to mesh Leopold Bloom’s Dublin with Jay’s Portland. He tried a documentary approach, but the employees were too busy, and it didn’t seem the right fit. So, by now well into his reading of Ulysses, he decided instead to gather choice passages from the book, write them out on cue-cards, and ask people to read them aloud on camera. The result is an unbelievably Joycean mix of mundane details and moments of epiphany, the carnal and spiritual, as a thickly-mustached mechanic reads his way through one of Joyce’s lustiest passages, his lips moving from reluctant to jubilant as he reads on, swept up into the current of words."

--Chris Thompson, "On the Fly: a Day in the Life with Harrell Fletcher", The Portland Phoenix (15 August 2002)

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Exhibitions + Festivals

Transmediale Festival (Germany), 2004

Athens Int'l Film/Video Festival (OH), 2004