Ancient Greek Women in Film (Classical Presences)
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This volume examines cinematic representations of ancient Greek women from the realms of myth and history. It discusses how these female figures are resurrected on the big screen by different filmmakers during different historical moments, and are therefore embedded within a narrative which serves various purposes, depending on the director of the film, its screenwriters, the studio, the country of its origin, and the sociopolitical context at the time of its production.
Using a diverse array of hermeneutic approaches (such as gender theory, feminist criticism, psychoanalysis, viewer-response theory, and personal voice criticism), the essays aim to cast light on cinema's investments in the classical past and decode the mechanisms whereby the women under examination are extracted from their original context and are brought to life to serve as vehicles for the articulation of modern ideas, concerns, and cultural trends. The volume thus aims to investigate not only how antiquity on the screen depicts, and in this process distorts, compresses, contests, and revises, antiquity on the page but also, more crucially, why the medium follows such eclectic representational strategies vis-a-vis the classical world.
this idea of two Helens more readily allows for dismissal of the ‘bad’ Helen and emphasis on the ‘good’ one. Echoing Teucer’s words in Euripides’ play who distinguishes the good sense of the stage character before him as opposed to the destructive legendary Helen (Hel. 160–3), in the ﬁlm Paris tells Helen that she is two Helens, both of them wise and good, while she is the one to insert caution here to Paris’ fantasy spins. Despite her later momentary ﬂights of fancy, this portrayal of Helen’s
with the movie should imagine every line delivered with wooden deliberation on Jason’s part, and languid sultriness on Medea’s: J: Medea why did you come here? Was it Aeëtes who sent you? I came here to ask you to give up your quest and sail away with the Argonauts in peace . . . never to return. J: Never to think again of the golden ﬂeece? M: Never to think of the ﬂeece. J: Then it was Aeëtes. (turning away, angrily) You tell him I will fulﬁll the task the gods have sent me . . . and never
thing that Jason has said to Medea so far, and he has the wrong erotic object. The second half of the dialogue in this scene conﬁrms the presence of the missing Apollonian subtext, and also results in the most implausible moment of Medea’s self-expression: Please . . . forget the golden ﬂeece. I fear for your safety. If you’re set on carrying it away, I must come with you. J: I’ll go alone. M: No. I have to go with you. I have no country now. (languidly closes, then opens her eyes) And I love
striking visual imagery and the emotional intensity of these ﬁlms. Similarly, von Trier’s ability to coax outstanding, career-best performances especially from his female protagonists on a regular basis deserves praise, even though his much publicized difﬁcult relationship with actresses Björk and Nicole Kidman during the ﬁlming of Dancer in the Dark and Dogville (2003), respectively, the ﬁrst part of his yet to be completed ‘U-S-A—Land of Opportunities’ trilogy, has earned him the additional
and, unsurprisingly, the woman is Penelope, and the baby in her arms Telemachus. To be sure, most viewers of Ulisse will not be privy to these identiﬁcations (although it would not be too much of a leap to guess the woven ﬁgures’ identities), but if we are looking for signiﬁcance in Penelope’s weaving, this cannot be ignored. What is the story she is telling through these images? Superﬁcially, it is a story which speaks for the importance of the oikos, the family and household unit which she is