- 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
- GORGON
- OEDIPUS REX
- ILLIAC PASSION
- THE CANNIBALS
- EDEA
- NOTES FOR AN AFRICAN ORESTEIA
- FOR ELECTRA
- PROMETHEUS IN THE SECOND PERSON
- VOYAGE TO CYTHERA
- ULYSSES' GAZE
- MATRIX
- O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?

EDEA
taly, 1970


Directed by: Pier Paolo Pasolini, in collaboration with Sergio Citti. Screenplay: Pier Paolo Pasolini, based on Euripides’ Medea. Director of Photography: nnio Guarnieri. Art Director: Dante Ferretti. Costume Design: Piero Tosi. Musical Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini, Elsa Morante. Film Editor: Nino Baragli. Cast: Maria Callas (Medea), Giuseppe Gentile (Jason), Massimo Girotti (Creon), Laurent Terzieff (Centaur), Margareth Clementi (Glauce), Anna Maria Chio (Nurse), Sergio Tramonti. Production: Franco Rossellini for San Marco (Italy), Les Films Number One (France), Janus Film und Fernsehen (Germany). Length: 110 min. Colour.

The young Jason is brought up by the wise centaur Chiron, who tells him of the legendary heritage of his people, the descendants of Aeolus, and of the Golden Fleece which they had lost to the inhabitants of Colchis. As a young man, Jason returns to his native country, Iolchos in Thessaly, and demands the throne which his uncle Pelias has illegally seized. Pelias promises the throne if Jason can bring the Golden Fleece back from Colchis. Jason and his Argonauts return not merely with the Fleece but also with Medea –the high priestess and daughter of the King of Colchis– who has become Jason’s lover and made good her escape by killing her younger brother Absyrtus. But Pelias refuses to honour his promise, and the lovers leave for Corinth; there they have two children and Medea (commonly believed to be a witch) attempts unsuccessfully to adjust to her new milieu. When Jason begins to grow restless with his "barbarian" princess and ambitiously arranges to marry Glauce, daughter of Corinth’s King Creon, Medea is provoked to seek revenge, and sees in a vision how her long-dormant magical powers can be applied. King Creon –clearly afraid of Medea’s spells– tells her that she must leave, but yields to her plea for a one-day respite. Medea thereupon sends for Jason, makes love with him for the last time, and despatches her two sons to Glauce with a gift of wedding robes. The moment she puts them on, Glauce is seized by a strange fit and throws herself to her death. Creon quickly follows suit. Rushing to their home, Jason discovers that Medea has killed their children and set the house on fire. Refusing to let him have the bodies, she dies in the flames.

I don’t see any difference between Oedipus and Medea; I don’t see any difference between Accattone and Medea, any difference between The Gospel and Medea. In reality a director always makes the same film, at least for a long period of his life, just as a poet always writes the same poem. These are variations, even profound ones, on a single theme. And the theme, as always in my films, is a type of ideal and ever unresolved relationship between the poor and the common world, let’s say the sub-proletariat, and the educated, middle-class, historical world. This time I have dealt directly and explicitly with this theme. Medea is the heroine of a sub-proletarian world, an archaic and religious world. Jason is instead the hero of a rational, lay, modern world. And their love represents the conflict between these two hemispheres. It’s an old polemic of mine: the centre of the petit bourgeois civilisation is reason, while everything that is irrational, for example art, challenges bourgeois reason. Power, in fact, is based on reason. Naturally, this being a relatively stratified work, there are other "meanings" to be found, for example a love story... Still, I must say that in the choice of this tragedy of "barbarisms" in which we see a mother kill her children for the love of a man, what fascinated me most was the excess of this love. In a certain sense, with Medea I wanted to show –in a manner that was absolutely fanciful, mythical and narrative– exactly this: the indelible violence of irrationality. Sometimes I write the screenplay without knowing who the actor will be. In this case I knew it would be Maria Callas, so I tailored my writing to her. She had a great effect on the creation of this character… The barbarism, deep inside, that comes out of her eyes, her features, is not shown directly. She belongs to a rustic world, Greek, agricultural, and was then brought up for a bourgeois culture. Thus, in a certain sense I tried to concentrate the entire complexity of Medea in character.

Pier Paolo Pasolini
Le regole di un’illusione,
Rome, Fondo Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1991

 

Euripides’ Medea is two hours of very heavy tragedy. Pasolini had an extraordinary idea, one I really liked: there is a barbaric Medea and a Greek one, the dream and the reality. [...] This is more modern; one gradually arrives at the true tragedy after the halfway point because there is a framing on the mythology and legend that is very meaningful. On the other hand, we mostly constructed the character together, partly to adapt to today’s requirements.[...] On stage I had to use a movement of the hand to express the fact that Medea was not Greek, an uncivilized and harder gesture: in the cinema this problem doesn’t exist; everything is briefer and curtailed. I’ll tell you even more: even on the stage I have always sought intensity, the essentiality; I didn’t have any particular problems: intensity and essential movements, I could afford to use a gesture only when it was truly called for. A useless gesture is a foolish gesture. [...] I hope I was successful in bringing out Medea’s humanity as much as possible, even though there is very little in the legend. There’s more wickedness… perhaps I’m a bit at odds with Pasolini, but I want more of the goodness of the character, I go beyond her unpleasant aspects.

Maria Callas
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Medea,
Milan, Garzanti, 1970