This is what I believe to have been the major impact of Sunday Bloody Sunday. And, I guess it says something about our growth as a society that a great deal of the “power” these scenes once held has evaporated. Seeing two men kiss in 2012 is not shocking. Homophobes may not like it, but that is their problem. As frustrated as I get with the juvenile nature of the “culture wars,” the fact that this material is no longer shocking does indicate some growth.
So, besides Schlesinger’s courageous willingness to present two men in an openly affectionate relationship, what else does Sunday Bloody Sunday have to offer? As reluctant as I am to say it, this is one selection of the Criterion Collection which I found to be fairly lackluster. Remove the historical importance, and what we are left with is a relatively straightforward love triangle.
Bob Elkin (Murray Head) is an attractive young man who is juggling affairs with a young woman by the name of Alex Greville (Glenda Jackson), and an older Jewish doctor, Daniel Hirsh (Peter Finch). The film is something of a period piece, with the sculptor Elkin representing the Boomers as unfocused, and self-involved.
The motivations of the two older characters are much more poignant. In the case of Alex Greville, her relationship with Bob is symptomatic of a midlife crisis. Her marriage has ended, and she is haunted by memories of an uncomfortable childhood. In the case of the upper middle class Doctor Hirsh, the situation is even more confusing. His homosexuality seems to be an escape from his Jewish upbringing. Yet the script is very sympathetic. He is never presented in anything less than a positive light, which again was unusual for the era.
Besides their relationships with Elkin, what Greville and Hirsh both share is a knowledge that the whole situation is temporary. Nobody really knows how it will end, but almost from the very beginning we realize the scenario will not last. It does not come as much of a surprise when Elkin decides to leave England. It is a very natural resolution, as it is clearly time for all to move on with their lives.