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Most Famous Greek Mythology Movies


Luna Ramsay

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1. Helena (1924 movie)

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The first production of.. mythical proportions came from Germany, with Manfred Noah's "Helena" (1924), totaling 204 minutes! Many of Germany's silent movie stars and comedians had resurrected the capture of beautiful Helen and the fall of Troy, yielding an honorable aesthetic result! The movie had been surrendered to oblivion until its recent restoration by the Munich Film Museum. A must watch from another era.

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2. Orpheus (1950 movie)

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This French film (original title “Orphée”) by Jean Cocteau is set in modern Paris and it is a variation of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Armed with the power of love, Orpheus travels to the Underworld in an effort to save his love Eurydice from an unjust death. A French movie set in Paris, based on one of the most epic love stories of all time and presented in a poetic way… the recipe for a wonderful movie! Not unjustly, it is considered one of the best artistic films of all time.

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3. Hercules (1958 movie)

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The Italians were fascinated by the cinematic depictions of supernatural beings, heroes and Greek mythology! In 1958, in "Le fatiche di Ercole" (The Labors of Hercules), directed by Pietro Franziski, bodybuilder Steve Reeves incarnates a Hercules who demolishes temples and falls in love with the beautiful princess Iole, during a delectable Argonaut campaign! The movie is based more on the myth of Jason and the Argonauts rather than the Labors of Hercules, but has the Greek demi-god in the leading role. A whole lot of confusing myths together but the more famous heroes the more popular the movie will be, right? Next year, in 1959, a sequel to this movie would follow with Steve Reeves staring again as Hercules, named Hercules Unchained (original title: “Ercole e la regina di Lidia”).

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4. Antigone (1961 movie)

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The clash between Eteocles and Polynices, the two sons of the late King Oedipus, who were claiming the throne of the Seven-tailed Thebes, results in the death of both. The new king, Creon, denies proper burial to one brother, causing the heroine of the story, Antigone, to defy the king’s orders and bury him herself. This famous adaptation of the tragic play by Sophocles was brought up in the silver screen with the amazing Irene Papas as Antigone.

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5. Electra (1962 movie)

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Electra is waiting for the right opportunity to avenge the death of her father, Agamemnon, king of Mycenae, who was murdered by his wife, Clytemnestra, and her lover Aegisthus. The opportunity presents itself when she meets Oreste's brother again. Together they will implement their murderous plan. Two years before Zorba's worldwide success, Michael Cacoyannis created one of the finest tragedy transfers to the big screen, with his 1967's "Electra". A black and white film with music by Mikis Theodorakis and powerful acting, with Irene Papas in the lead role as Electra. The final result garnered a Best Film Award at the 1962 Cannes Film Festival as well as an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film in 1963.

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6. Oedipus Rex (1967 movie)

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This Italian film by Pier Paolo Pasolini is an adaptation of the homonymous Greek tragedy written by Sophocles. A boy is born in a Milan village in the 1930s. His father abandons the baby in a desert and is rescued by another couple. We watch as the three sisters of fate weave our hero’s life thread, mumbling: “I have arrived. Life ends where it started.”

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7. Medea (1969 movie)

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Another gem from Pier Paolo Pasolini. This famous adaptation of Jason and the Argonauts myth focuses on the sorceress Medea, who helped Jason in his quest and was promised by him to be his wife. After returning to his land as a hero, Jason abandons Medea and marries instead a Corinthian princess. Enraged, Medea plots revenge against Jason and his new wife, with tragic events following. With the famous soprano Maria Calls starring, Pasolini successfully adapts the famous Greek tragic play by Euripides.

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8. Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995-1999 TV Series)

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The powerful Greek demi-god hero was the inspiration for one of the most popular television shows in the world in the late 90s. With Kevin Sorbo as Hercules, the story follows the hero and his sidekick Iolaus in the world of ancient Greece, as they try to save villagers from monsters or evil warlords, avoiding at the same time the whims of the vengeful Goddess Hera.

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9. Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001 TV Series)

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A famous spin-off of the previous mention, Xena was another popular television series based in Greek mythology. Created by writer and director Robert Tapert, it continued the story of Xena that first appeared in three episodes of the earlier Hercules television series. Lucy Lowell starred as the homonymous character. The premise of the series unfolds mainly in ancient Greece and Italy (but also in other ancient sites), adapting Greek and Roman mythology to its needs. Very inaccurate series but extremely fun to watch!

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10. The Odyssey (1997 TV Mini-Series)

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Undoubtedly, one of the most famous characters from Greek Mythology is the crafty Odysseus (Ulysses in Latin), the hero of the epic poem of Homer, Odyssey. The story follows Odysseus and his crew on their way back to Ithaca after the fall of Troy. A journey that would normally last weeks, lasted 10 whole years! Their epic adventures include many ordeals that the God Poseidon sent to their way, after they showed arrogance towards the Olympians. Terrifying mythical monsters, gigantic Cyclops, beautiful Nymphs and enchanting Sirens are only a few of the trials Odysseus has to face before he returns to his loyal wife Penelope. A personal favorite!

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11. Hercules (1997 animated musical film)

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Hercules is a Walt Disney-produced animated musical film inspired by the mythical Greek hero. Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, the film was praised for its visuals, music and humor. Although only loosely based on the 12 labors of Hercules, the movie includes the most powerful and famous Olympian Gods and sheds a light to the ancient greek society in a fun way. Oh, and Danny DeVito does the voice of the beloved Phil! Another personal favorite!

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12. Οh Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000 movie)

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Three convicts escape from prison, with the ultimate goal of searching for a hidden treasure. After many adventures, they will finally find that what is really worth is the "journey" itself. Does it ring a bell? As we read on the headlines, the film is based on Homer’s Odyssey”. In fact, we are dealing with a (very) free adaptation of the Homeric epic poem. The Coen brothers write a clever script (which was an Oscar nominee), full of enjoyable dialogues and familiar stereotypes of the story (Penelope with the suitors, the Cyclops, the Sirens etc.) and George Clooney starring!

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13. Jason and the Argonauts (2000 TV Mini-Series)

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Its content is, of course, the Argonautic Campaign, one of the most beautiful stories in Greek mythology! Little Jason becomes an eyewitness to the murder of his father and King of Iolkos, Aeson, by his uncle, Pelias, and escapes his own murder. Twenty years later he will return to his homeland to claim the throne, as a legal successor. To do this, he must offer Pelias the Golden Fleece from Colchis.

 

Thus, Argo, the ship that will carry him and the other Greek heroes to their adventures, is built and the crew sails away. The obstacles they will encounter on their journey are many, including the God Poseidon, the Harpies, the murderous women of Lemnos and the stonemasons. The Golden Fleece looks unreachable until Medea comes into Jason’s life. A better version of the story might be the 1963 film adaptation.

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