In 1915, James Joyce and Nora Barnacle travelled with their young children Giorgio and Lucia to Switzerland to escape the turmoil of World War I. Lucia later trained as a dancer and performed throughout Europe. Her career ended when, in the early 1930s, she was forced into psychiatric care and underwent treatment at various hospitals across Europe.
Horrible Creature is the second in a proposed trilogy of films directed by dance and film artist Áine Stapleton and is filmed at locations in Switzerland where Lucia spent time. The first, Medicated Milk, challenged the accepted biography of Lucia’s life and considered the complexity of mental instability.
Here, Lucia’s own writing, interpreted by a cast of international dance artists, conjures her world between 1915 and 1950. The film fearlessly explores her difficult family life, her unproven illness, and her undoubted talent.
Notes by Sunniva O’Flynn