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MEDEA

Pier Paolo Pasolini | 1969 | 118 MINS
Italy/France/West Germany | Subtitles
The powerful sorceress (Maria Callas) helps Jason (Giuseppe Gentile) steal the Golden Fleece and reclaim his throne, then enacts a gruesome revenge after he spurns her.

In Detail

The great Italian poet, filmmaker, and provocateur extraordinaire Pier Paolo Pasolini, who once famously embraced (apparent) contradiction by publicly declaring, "I am a Catholic. I am a Communist. I am a homosexual," made no less seemingly contradictory choices when it came to translating literary texts into cinema.

His notorious final work, ‘Salò’, was his rendition of de Sade, but he had previously put his stamp on St. Matthew, Chaucer, and Boccaccio, so an adaptation of ‘Medea’, the myth cemented for the ages by Euripides in 431 BC, was hardly out of character, and Pasolini presented his take on the ancient text in 1969 with the tempestuous opera diva Maria Callas as the character - the eternal symbol of "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" - from which the play derives its name.

If Pasolini reworks Euripides's version in some ways to a point beyond recognition, his aim is to convey the essential, shattering, inconsolable anguish of the story, and the slightly uneven but fascinatingly unique result of the experiment makes clear how rich and ripe the material was for mining by Pasolini's febrile, probing sensibility. This is rare screening of a beautifully digitally restored version, with the originality of Maria Callas doing the dubbing herself.

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