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Critic Reviews for Medea
Pier Paolo Pasolini's disappointing 1970 version of the Greek tragedy.
Only for an art-house audience, but those who want to feel and poetically experience the ancient world might also find this odd film worth watching, at least once.
Pasolini strips the play down to symbolic, almost abstract expressions of scenes and ideas, like the cinema equivalent of hieroglyphics.
This fascinating, if not entirely successful, adaptation of the Euripides play has opera diva Callas in her sole screen appearance as the sorceress queen.
The diva's disappointing (dubbed) performance is due to Pasolini's wayward direction.
Audience Reviews for Medea
If you're a beginner to this ancient Greek tragedy about betrayal and revenge, then Pier Paolo Pasolini's abstract version really is not the place to start.(As strange as it may sound Lars von Trier's version is better suited for the beginner.) But that's not to say there are not rewards here for the adventurous filmgoer, namely the great Maria Callas in the lead. So, while I did have a sense of deja-vu from watching this(namely because of Pasolini's "Oedipus Rex" not being that stylistically dissimilar), I thought it was interesting how his version of ancient Greece almost resembled another planet through a great use of locations.
This film is brilliantly set and cast. Pasolini, almost wordlessly, distinguishes between the ancient and mythical world and modern and rational realm. Medea is completely associated with the elemental, while by birthright, Jason seems to be a bridge between the two worlds. Jason's denial of Medea severs the relationship to the past, never to be recaptured. This return to myth is a parabolic commentary on the then current state of Italian culture; by embracing American consumerism, values and the spiritual are negated - connection to the past is severed, forever unknown by modern man. We are the damned!
Medea is an extraordinary film which some will find difficult. Telling the story of Jason and his quest for the Golden Fleece, this is not the stuff of Ray Harryhausen. Meeting the priestess of the Fleece, Medea, he falls in love with her and takes her home. Years later, after bearing him sons, she exacts a terrible revenge after he spurns her for a new love. Medea is also extraordinary in exhibiting Pasolini's demonstration of contrasts in plot development and framing. In the sequence in which we are introduced to Medea, we witness the mesmeric nature of a human sacrifice, which changes from the ecstatic to the horrific within the same sequence. This motif recurs throughout the film, and has prompted admiration from French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, who mentions Pasolini in his treatise on the movement-image. Filmed with a mixture of professional and non-professional actors, Medea is a challenging and refreshing change from the usual, as it builds up to a frightening climax in an unconventional way. Often shown in 'World Cinema' slots late at night, it's a film worth staying up for, or recording, for those seeking an alternative to Hollywood pap.
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