James Joyce and Sergei Eisenstein: Haunting Samuel Beckett's Film

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Samuel Beckett's Film has been the focus of several articles in the past decade. While current investigations of Beckett's film are diverse, what most of them share is their dependence on biographical data to support their readings. Many scholars who have written on Beckett's failed cinematic excursion, for example, point to Beckett's letter of 1936 to Sergei Eisenstein. However, the link between Beckett's interest in film and his admiration for James Joyce has sadly been overlooked. Both Irish writers saw the artistic possibilities in film and both admired the Russian silent film legend, Sergei Eisenstein. Although there is no record of Joyce and Beckett discussing cinema or of Beckett knowing about Joyce's meeting with Eisenstein in 1929, it seems unlikely that Beckett would not have known something about these meetings or Joyce's much earlier film enterprise, the Volta. By re-examining Film and speculating on the possible three way connections between Eisenstein, Joyce and Beckett, I wish to add a footnote to Beckett studies which hopefully will lead others to wander on the Beckett-Joyce-Eisenstein trail and which will open up further discussions of Film. Beckett's film is haunted by the memory of his friendship with James Joyce and his admiration for Eisenstein's talent, both of which are visible in the screen images and theme of Film.