While there are many wonderful movies that touch on the ancient world, at this point, HellenicGods.org can only recommend the movies listed below. A movie such as Troy is very entertaining and has many strong points, but since the creators of the film chose to deviate in several important ways from Homer, it cannot be recommended as shedding any great light on Hellenismos. By all means, enjoy Troy and the many films that have been created, but keep in mind that much of what you see has been fabricated by a contemporary writer who does not worship our Gods.
FAMOUS PLAYS AND STORIES FROM ANTIQUITY from GREEK CINEMA:
Every one of the movies listed below is superb and it is obvious that an effort was made to be truer to the original plays and present ancient Greece honestly. Antigone, Electra, Iphigenia, and The Trojan Woman include the great Greek actress Irene Papas. Iphigenia stars the magnificent Costas Kazakos as Agamemnon.
Antigone (Ἀντιγόνη) by Sophocles. This was directed by George Tzavellas, 1961.
Electra ( Ἠλέκτρα) by Euripides. This was directed by Michael Cacoyannis (of Zorba the Greek fame), 1962. This was the first of his Greek-tragedy trilogy, followed by The Trojan Women in 1971 and Iphigenia in 1977.
Iphigenia based on Ἰφιγένεια ἐν Αὐλίδι (Iphigenia in Aulis) of Euripides, directed by Michael Cacoyannis, 1977. This film is my personal favorite of the Greek mythological movies. Irene Pappas, Costas Kazakos, and the lovely Tatiana Papamoskou as Iphigenia.
The Trojan Women after Τρῳάδες of Euripides, another Michael Cacoyannis film, 1971. Katherine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave and Genevieve Bujold in addition to Irene Pappas.
Young Aphrodites (Μικρές Αφροδίτες) directed by Nikos Koundouros, 1963. Unusual movie telling the tale of Daphnis and Chloe as children in ancient village:
OTHER FILMS CONCERNING THE HELLENIC WORLD:
AGORA directed by Alejandro Amenábar, 2009 The movie AGORA is now available for purchase in the USA. Agora is the story of the Neoplatonic philosopher, Ipatia (Hypatia; Gr. Ὑπατία, ὙΠΑΤΊΑ) of Alexandria, a woman who was murdered in 415 CE by a Christian mob. While this is a fictionalized account of these events, the outline of the story is based on historical record. Agora caused considerable controversy when released in Europe, arousing, reputedly, the anger of the Roman Catholic church, which endeavored to have it banned. I recommend the film, particularly to give as gifts to people who have open minds. While there are difficulties in the work, it is, in the opinion of this author, a very important film: the first time that our story, the story of the suppression of our tradition, has been told in a popular way in this medium.
As a piece of art it is imperfect, yet it moved me. There is one scene in the film, when Orestes, prefect of Rome, friend and former student of Ipatia, begs her to be publicly baptized, as required by a recently-enacted law. Orestes implores her that should she refuse, he would be unable to speak with her or even acknowledge her when they passed on the street. At this point Orestes weeps and expresses his unwillingness to go on living without being able to be near her. And, I must say that I wept too...at the memories that this scene recalled to mind, of the endless misery of intolerance, the ugly cruelty of our human race. At the end of the film, there is text that describes what became of the historical people represented in the film, and that after the murder of Ipatia, the prefect Orestes disappeared, never to be seen again.
CINEMA WITH A HELLENIC HEART:
I bambini ci guardano (The Children are Watching us) 1942, directed by Vittorio de Sica. Amazing and beautiful performance by Luciano De Ambrosis as the boy Pricò in this heartfelt story of the suffering caused by infidelity on a young boy, his father, and family.
City Lights directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin, 1931 - a very special film that is not the possession of any country or place, but belongs to the world. "After all the superb comic sequences, the film culminates with one of the most moving scenes in the history of cinema, a luminous and heartbreaking fade-out that lifts the picture onto another plane." --Robert Horton
Kes, a film directed by Ken Loach, produced by Tony Garnett, 1969. This is the story of a boy, Billy Casper (played by David Bradley), from a mining family of the Yorkshire area of England. Billy steals a kestrel from its nest and learns falconry from a book, developing a great love for the bird. Deeper in this story is the reality of the lives of the local people and subtle commentary on social waste as children are led only into menial employment, while pushing aside their potential. Also of interest is the Yorkshire dialect. The director used locals for almost all the acting roles and you can hear them using words such as "thee" and "thou" in ordinary secular speech. Kes is a very beautiful and warm film which demonstrates how cinema can bring attention to social injustice and be an instrument to bring benefit to our world.
"I personally ask the question, 'How does he do it? How does he get at such reality, such truth, such honesty?' And Ken always says that it's nothing to do with the 'how' it's to do with the 'why.' " Alan Parker, film director speaking of Ken Loach on the South Bank Show, 1993.
The Kid directed and starring Charlie Chaplin as The Tramp and child actor Jackie Coogan as the Kid, 1921 - not quite on the level of City Lights, but extraordinary nonetheless. "The gags are flawless, but for Chaplin the huge advance (other than a running time longer than his two-reelers) was the exploration of a rich vein of sentiment; the emotionally wrenching separation of the Tramp and the Kid is probably the most Dickensian sequence ever captured on film. Chaplin drew on his own rough childhood for the material (and may have been inspired by the death of an infant son immediately before beginning the project). Jackie Coogan's gift for mimicry allowed him to replicate Chaplin's exacting direction, making him the perfect Chaplin co-star." --Robert Horton
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