Greek Tragedy into Film
Routledge – 1986 – 220 pages
If Greek tragedy is sometimes regarded as a form long dead and buried, both theatre producers and film directors seem slow to accept its interment. Originally published in 1986, this book reflects the renewed interest in questions of staging the Greek plays, to give a comprehensive account and critical analysis of all the important versions of Greek tragedy made on film. From the 1927 footage of the re-enactment of Aeschylus’ Prometheus in Chains at the Delphi Festival organised by Angelos Sikelianos to Pasolini’s Notes for an African Oresteia, the study encompasses the version of Oedipus by Tyrone Guthrie, Tzavellas’s Antigone (with Irene Papas), Michael Cacoyannis’s series which included Electra, The Trojan Women, and Iphigeneia, Pasolini’s Oedipus and Medea (with Maria Callas), Miklos Jancso’s Elektreia, Dassim’s Phaedra and others.
Many interesting questions are raised by the transference of a highly stylised form such as Greek tragedy to what is often claimed to be the ‘realistic’ medium of film. What becomes clear is that the heroic myths retain with ease the power to move the audiences in very different milieux through often strikingly different means.
The book may be read as an adjunct to viewing of the films, but enough synopsis is given to make its arguments accessible to those familiar only with the classical texts, or with neither version.
1. Introduction 2. The General Problem: Theatre into Film 3. Specific Problems 4. Films in the Theatrical Mode 5. Films in the Realistic Mode 6. Films in the Filmic Mode 7. Meta-Tragedy 8. Conclusion. Appendices (Ancient Greek Comedy into Film, Brief Synopsis of Ancient Plays on which Films have been Based, Credits of Films of Greek Drama)