The quiet desperation of the three characters is quite a departure from Midnight Cowboy, although there are similar themes. The “outsider” status of each (to varying degrees) is the biggest common ground. The “armchair psychology” (if you will) of Ian Buruma’s essay in regards to Schlesinger’s homosexuality, and how it relates to the film an intriguing inclusion in the booklet. I also found the reprint of the introduction to the publication of the script, “Making Sunday Bloody Sunday” by screenwriter Penelope Gilliatt to offer valid insights.
The majority of the DVD’s special features are interviews. These include three that were done in 2012 for this Criterion Collection release, which feature author William J. Mann (23 minutes), production designer Luciana Aright (nine minutes), and Schlesinger’s partner, photographer Michael Childers (seven minutes). It is John Schlesinger’s own words, from a 1975 American Film Institute seminar (13 minutes) that I found the most informative. His take on the state of filmmaking remains fascinating even all these years later.
Although the scenario is somewhat muted, Sunday Bloody Sunday is storytelling done at a very high level. Although the controversy it once engendered is not nearly as overwhelming as it was in 1971, it remains a powerful film. It was also a very courageous act by a director who was never afraid to express himself, no matter what the expectations of “conventional” society may have been.