"One great part of every human existence is passed in a state which cannot be rendered sensible by use of wide-awake language, cut-and-dry grammar and go-ahead plot". James Joyce
"Finnegans Wake deals with the nightworld, with the subconscious, and with dreams. Joyce felt that during the night man must redeem himself by means of a quest; must refresh his powers through sleep, which takes him beyond himself into a world without definition. Man's goal is lucidity, a fresh awakening. The quest carries him through all history, which seems to be a constant process of waking. It is some of this universal element which we have tried to capture in this first film based on any of Joyce's major work."
Finnegan - otherwise know as H. C. Earwicker, or Here Comes Everybody - has two sons, Shem and Shaun who are also conflicting parts of himself which invade him; and his daughter Iseult, who is a younger manifestation of his wife, Anna Livia Plurabelle (ALP), who is also his soul and the River Liffey. Finnegan must come to terms with these parts of himself, realize the dangers inherent in their extreme forms, and experience his "reunited selfdom" in order to "Wake" up.