If you enjoy watching Greek mythology movies, you must have also found how wonderfully directors have reinterpreted to cater to their modern audience. Not many might be aware of the intellectual movement that was quite prominent back at the start of the 19th century, called Philhellenism. Philhellenes never hide their love for Greek culture.
Philhellenism made vital contributions by noted figures like Charles Nicolas Fabvier and Lord Byron, who advocated for Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire. These and a few more formed stories were popular in ancient Greece. The staying power of such creations is prevalent even to this day. Here are movies that have kept the audience entertained around the world. These should be on your must-watch list if you are a true Philhellene.
The first portrayal of mythology on the silver screen in a classic German silent movie was Helena. Borrowing from the ‘Iliad’ (by Homer), the movie saw the light of day in two parts- The Rape of Helen and The Fall of Troy.
One look at the film and you would know it’s truly a ‘feast for the eyes! While shooting, Manfred Noa, the film director, used elaborate sets and several add-ons. This led the film to exceed its set budget. Subsequently, the studio’s finances were in a dangerous spot.
Originally, the French film came out under the title Orphee. It had stories from Greek mythology. What is novel about the film is how it’s set in the ‘then-contemporary Paris and has been twisted a bit to suit the modern tastes of viewers. The classic myth is retold in such a manner where important portions of the source material have been incorporated to re-imagine the same.
Hades, in the movie’s version, depicts the ‘Zone’ in a ruined city. Orpheus turns to look at Eurydice, but this time via the mirror of a Rolls-Royce. Directed by Jean Cocteau, this is the only movie of the ‘Orphic Trilogy’ that explicitly deals with Greek mythology.
This Greek-language film hit the screens in 1962 and borrows from the play by Euripides, which was a tragedian of classical Athens. The first installment of the ‘Greek tragedy’ trilogy- was followed by The Trojan Women (1971) and Iphigenia (1977). Michael Cacoyannis, the director won praises and awards. This includes a Best Film Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1962. He also won an Oscar nomination in 1963, for Best Foreign Film.
As stated before, the 1977 release Iphigenia is about the myth by the same name. And it provides an insight about the tragedies of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra’s daughter who was initially ordered by Artemis, the Goddess, to get sacrificed.
Cacoyannis continued his success story, this time with Tatiana Papamoschou, in the role of Iphigenia, and Irene Papas, who had also starred in Electra (1962), in the role of Clytemnestra. The movie stands out for its very execution and has also fetched several awards, notably the Best Film Award at the Thessaloniki Film Festival (1977), and the Belgian Femina Award (1978). It was also nominated at the Cannes Film Festival (1977). Papamoschou also got the Best Leading Actress Award for portraying the role of Iphigenia.
Another classic from Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, this movie is all about the renowned Greek myth of Jason and Argonauts. The focus lies on the sorceress ‘Medea,’ who helped Jason quest for Golden Fleece. Much like the original story, Jason promises to come back for Medea and marry her, after he returns from his journey and is greeted with love and admiration; but eventually, he forgets about her. Jason later marries a Corinthian princess, whereas Medea begins plotting her revenge against him and his new wife. The Greek-American opera singer Maria Callas played the role brilliantly, apart from his singing. Even critics appreciated her and the film, but sadly it didn’t succeed from the commercial angle.
Philhellene or not, you must try adding these movies to your must-watch list. And if you’ve seen them, there is still plenty to add to the existing list. Check out the movie streaming sites to know which new ones are releasing soon. You might find some interesting movies to binge-watch over the next few days. Don’t forget to add your favorite movies in the comments section!