- LULU / PANDORA'S BOX
- DAPHNIS AND CHLOE
- FEDRA
- THE FUGITIVE KIND
- THE TESTAMENT OF ORPHEUS
- PHAEDRA
- HERCULES CONQUERS ATLANTIS
- YOUNG APHRODITES
- CONTEMPT
- PROMETHEUS FROM THE VISEVICE ISLAND
- SANDRA OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS
- THE GOLDEN THING
- THE TRAVELLING PLAYERS
- EURIDICE BA 2037
- IPHIGENIA
- A DREAM OF PASSION
- CLASH OF THE TITANS
- THE YEARS OF THE BIG HEAT
- ENIOCHUS - THE CHARIOTEER
- ANTIGONE
- EDIPO ALCADE
- THAT'S LIFE
- BLADE RUNNER
- VERTIGO
- MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA
- ORPHEUS
- PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
- ULYSSES
- HERACLES AND THE QUEEN OF LYDIA
- BLACK ORPHEUS
- ANTIGONE
- ELECTRA
- JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS
- ďă┼ GORGON
- OEDIPUS REX
- ďă┼ ILLIAC PASSION
- THE CANNIBALS
- ╠EDEA
- NOTES FOR AN AFRICAN ORESTEIA
- FOR ELECTRA
- PROMETHEUS IN THE SECOND PERSON
- VOYAGE TO CYTHERA
- ULYSSES' GAZE
- ďă┼ MATRIX
- O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?

HERACLES AND THE QUEEN OF LYDIA
ERCOLE E LA REGINA DE LA LIDIA
Italy, 1959


Directed by: Pietro Francisci. Screenplay: Pietro Francisci, Ennio de Concini. Director of Photography: Mario Bava. Set Design: Massimo Tavazzi, Flavio Morgherini. Costume Design: Maria Baroni. Music: Enzo Masetti. Film Editor: Mario Serandrei. Special Effects: Mario Bava. Cast: Steve Reeves (Heracles), Gabriele Antonini (Odysseus), Sylvia LŘpez (Omphale), Sylva Koscina (Iole), Sergio Fantoni (Eteocles), Mimmo Palmara (Polyneices), Andrea Fantasia (Laertes), Primo Carnera (Antaeus), Carlo d’Angelo (Creon). Production: Bruno Vailati for Lux Film / Lux Compagnie CinÄmatographique de France. Length: 105 min. Colour.

Heracles, his wife Iole and Odysseus are heading for Attica. On their way, Heracles wrestles with and crushes the giant Antaeus, a bandit whose source of strength is the Earth. Inside a cave they find the blind Oedipus and his son Polyneices, who has agreed with his brother Eteocles to rule Thebes alternately. However, Eteocles, the current ruler of Thebes, refuses to give up the throne and Heracles agrees to act as a mediator. He visits the palace of Thebes, makes peace between the two brothers, leaves Iole in the hands of High priest Creon and, together with Odysseus, intends to meet Polyneices again. However, on his way there he drinks from the spring of Lethe (Oblivion) and loses his memory. He gets arrested by soldiers and is taken to the island of Lydia, where Omphale rules. In order to protect Heracles, Odysseus follows him passing for a deaf-mute. Omphale seduces Heracles, who does not find his memory again despite Odysseus’ efforts. The latter discovers in the palace dungeon the horrible secret of the Queen, who turns her lovers into statues. Odysseus sends a carrier pigeon to his father Laertes, who comes to help them together with the Argonauts. Heracles finds his memory again and gets to Thebes, where Eteocles has arrested Iole because he thinks that the vanished Heracles has betrayed him. The two brothers agree to fight and the winner take the throne, but they finally kill each other. Creon becomes the ruler of Thebes and Heracles finds his beloved wife again.

Deviations...
The great international success of the Labours of Heracles (1957), which signalled the spring of the Italian "peplum", led Pietro Francisci to a second part of the demigod’s adventures, which is admittedly better than the first one; not only because the production is richer and more thorough, but also because the screenplay, although it brings together the most unexpected actions, is more coherent than the scattered Labours of Heracles and much closer to the spirit of ancient Greek mythology. Nobody expects the son of Zeus to get involved in family tragedies and hostilities that concern the myth of Oedipus and his children. However, a great part of the screenplay consists of simplified facts from Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes and Sophocles’ Oedipus at Colonus. These two tragedies, whose spirit never reached our times, are just a vehicle composing the background of a civil war and various conspiracies in which Heracles gets involved on the demand of blind Oedipus. The focal point of the film is something completely different from the "Theban Circle", though quite similar to Heracles’ mythology as far as Omphale, the Queen of the Lydians, is concerned, whom Heracles served as a slave (with all the sexual implications of the term) for thirty consecutive years. The saving intervention of Odysseus and the Argonauts is certainly a clever device used by the Cinecittł studios, which we agreeably accept, just as we do with other "deviations" from the myth.
In any case, it is interesting to see that in the Italian "peplum" films the queen of some exotic kingdom (preferably Asian) is always an Amazon emasculating men, making them her tools and killing them as soon as she gets bored or, as the case is here, turning them to stone (Omphale’s dungeon with the petrified statues of her ex-lovers resembles ╠adame Tussaud’s waxwork museum). This is a misogynistic strain and an undercurrent of sado-masochistic eroticism of a kind that should excite desire, but at the same time remain a "children’s" spectacle. As for Omphale’s magic powers, they are among the few references to the fantastical, in a film that, just like the Labours of Heracles, keeps supernatural deeds to a minimum and completely excludes the intervention of the gods: it is by no accident that the only "certified" Heraclean deed in the film (although it is not one of the Twelve Labours) is his tussle with Antaeus, whose source of strength is in the Earth (mythological element) and whom Heracles defeats thanks to his wits and vigour. Finally, a significant part of the film’s success is due to the contribution of Mario Bava, who apart from being director of photography and responsible for special effects, co-directed the film.

Babis Aktsoglou