You’d think that, with everything going for it – gods fighting titans, impregnating women, heroes killing monsters, wars, incest, orgies and all the sword and sandal adventure you could want, there would be plenty Greek mythology movies. But, even though there are plenty of references (the Odyssey is referenced in movies such as 2001:A Space Odyssey, Cold Mountain, O, Brother, Where Art Thou?), there are few movies actually following Greek mythology.
Ulysses – 1954
Directed by Mario Camerini, starring Kirk Douglas (in a role that might have prepared him for Spartacus) and Anthony Quinn, the movie is a decent portrayal of the Odyssey, following Ulysses’ road back to Ithaca after the Trojan war. Being one of the most popular stories, apart from the Iliad, it’s surprising there are little other attempts of bringing the magic to the big screen. Also, a mediocre TV mini-series in 1997 starring Armand Assante .
Oedipus the King – 1968
Starring Christopher Plummer and Orson Welles the movies is based on the tale of Oedipus, son of the king and queen of Thebes, abandoned by his parents for fear of the prophecy that he will marry his mother and kill his father, adopted son of the king of Corinth. Of course, he tragically ends up fulfilling the prophecy and giving psychiatrists everywhere something to diagnose their patients with, the Oedipus complex.
Hercules in New York – 1970
Starring Mr. Universe himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, dubbed too, sees the legendary hero as he encounters everything from gods to gangsters in New York. It would seem like a perfect fit having the Terminator play the world’s strongest demigod, but it wasn’t. Not exactly the most accurate in its depiction of Greek gods and myth, it’s a movie that even Arnold himself admits he regrets doing.
Clash of the Titans – 1981
A great example of stop-motion animation, with a great cast of supporting actors, including Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith, this one was heavy on the references, and somewhat faithful to the adventures of Perseus. Filled with action and a little humor, the movie was popular enough to warrant this year’s remake, even though the special effects don’t stand the test of time.
Hercules – 1997
The 1997 Disney animation featured plenty of Greek myth characters but it was far from being accurate in its depiction, though the Disney charm was there, featuring everything you’d expect from catchy songs to memorable characters (Hades comes to mind, wonderfully voiced by James Woods). An animated series followed, as with many other Disney big screen creations.
Troy – 2004
It was Wolfgang Petersen’s vision of the Iliad, with Brad Pitt as Achilles and Orlando Bloom as Paris. It was a visual treat that packed plenty of action, though it took a few liberties with the story(though no gods were involved). It was met with mixed reviews and, due to it’s huge budget – $175 million , it was considered a flop after only grossing around $133 million in the U.S., though it did help Eric Bana get past his Ang Lee Hulk failure.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief – 2010
A mash-up of several books in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, by Rick Riordan, the movie is directed by Chris Columbus, of the first two Harry Potter films. That being said, it does seem to have a few things in common with the tale of the young sorcerer: a kid finds out he’s special and with the help of friends goes through a series of adventures and fights the forces of evil. It does, however, have more action, more fun, and humor, maybe at the expense of a bit of magic.
Which brings us to the upcoming 3D remake of Clash of the Titans, starring the star of Avatar, Sam Worthington and having The Incredible Hulk director Louis Leterrier at the helm. By the look of the trailer it looks to be bigger and more action packed than the original, with new and updated visuals. Here’s to hoping it’s a hit and it leads to more Greek myth inspired big screen romps.
Posted on March 27th, 2010 by MrWiseguy
Filed under: Movies