LULU / PANDORA'S BOX
- DAPHNIS AND CHLOE
- THE FUGITIVE KIND
- THE TESTAMENT OF ORPHEUS
- HERCULES CONQUERS ATLANTIS
- YOUNG APHRODITES
- PROMETHEUS FROM THE VISEVICE ISLAND
- SANDRA OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS
- THE GOLDEN THING
- THE TRAVELLING PLAYERS
- EURIDICE BA 2037
- A DREAM OF PASSION
- CLASH OF THE TITANS
- THE YEARS OF THE BIG HEAT
- ENIOCHUS - THE CHARIOTEER
- EDIPO ALCADE
- THAT'S LIFE
- BLADE RUNNER
- MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA
- PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
- HERACLES AND THE QUEEN OF LYDIA
- BLACK ORPHEUS
- JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS
- ‘«Ň GORGON
- OEDIPUS REX
- ‘«Ň ILLIAC PASSION
- THE CANNIBALS
- NOTES FOR AN AFRICAN ORESTEIA
- FOR ELECTRA
- PROMETHEUS IN THE SECOND PERSON
- VOYAGE TO CYTHERA
- ULYSSES' GAZE
- ‘«Ň MATRIX
- O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?
ERCOLE ALLA CONQUISTA DI ATLANTIDE
by: Vittorio Cottafavi. Screenplay: Vittorio Cottafavi, Sandro Continenza,
Duccio Tessari, Archibald Zounds Jr. Director of Photography: Carlo
Carlini. Set Design: Franco Lolli. Costume designer: Vittorio Rossi.
Music: Gino Marinuzzi Jr., Armando Trovaioli. Film editor: Maurizio
Lucidi. Cast: Reg Park (Hercules), Fay Spain (Antinea), Ettore Manni
(Androcles), Enrico Maria Salerno (King of Megara), Gian Maria Volonté
(King of Sparta), Mimo Palmara (grand vizier), Mario Petri (Zantas),
Lucianna Angiolillo (Deianeira), Maurizio Coffarelli (Proteus), Luciano
Marin (Hylus), Laura Efrikian (Ismene). Production: Achille Piazzi.
Duration: 101 min. Colour.
Androcles, King of Thebes, asks for Hercules’
help to face a threat which, according to the oracle, will come
from the sea. The demigod refuses because he wants to be with his
family but Hylus, his son, deceives him and Hercules finds himself
on a ship together with Androcles and his men. After a great storm
the ship sinks and Hercules finds shelter on an island. There,
he rescues Ismene, Queen Antinea’s daughter, from evil god Proteus
to whom the citizens of Atlantis must sacrifice their young citizens
to protect themselves from the invasion of other citizens of Earth.
Queen Antinea, who is tyrannical and rules thanks to a secret energy
source, pretends to be pleased about her daughter’s rescue, but
she knows that, according to an oracle, if she does not sacrifice
her daughter, her country will be destroyed. Hercules does not
allow the human sacrifices to continue. He finds the secret of
Antinea’s power – who has cast a spell on the captive Androcles
and has turned her guards into superhumans – thus he contributes
to the sinking of the legendary kingdom of Atlantis.
A Transparent Parable
by Gérard Legrand
The film Hercules Conquers Atlantis poses a complex question.
We have to deal with the "rescue" of a paganistic
story under the cover of a transparent parable that wants to "demystify" one
of the few myths entirely belonging to the 20th century.
I would like to make myself clear: Plato did not invent the
myth of Atlantis out of the blue. In contrast to what the "broad
public" and many "naives" – more or less interested
in his work – think, Plato was the one who shaped and humanised
the older and undefined outlines of the myth. Some of these
are a reminiscence of the last prehistoric catastrophes, a
confusion between the name of Titan Atlas and the name of a
mountain that roamed almost everywhere before stabilising in
North Africa, legends about the ancient owners of the Mediterranean
and their "orphic" lifestyle; the whole, beautified
by an eccentric choice from the body of the mythical nomenclature.
However, all these together would not be sufficient to form
the allegory Plato wanted, if it were not for "Egypt" (known
as the "wonderland" of ancient times) and the relative
luxury of the fanciful "precision", which flourished
by the salon – explorers and the invincible divers (without
having the least idea of Platonic philosophy).
We took pains to find all the places where the later geographers
located Atlantis; these places cover the whole planet, including
Spitzburg and Oceania. Even "magic" participated
in the story: some American sects trying to find a Gospel purified
of any Judaic elements and, later, the Nazis, commenced an
insane trend for the search of the citizens of Atlantis. Was
this nostalgia for the lost paradise and the nation of the
chosen ones? On the eve of the Second World War, the myth of
Atlantis dominated and had spread, like a contagious disease,
over this civilisation; a civilisation supporting progress
and excessive modernism. The only thing the myth did was to
discover some laughable archaeological scrolls.
Hercules in Conquest is even more spectacular than the one
of Revenge as he destroys everything.1 He
may not care for the fight in the tavern but he, his son and
his friend, the
King of Thebes, fight over a dancer. However, Hercules arrested
together with the King, stands alone in front of the red light
threatening to destroy life. He continues to sleep until the
moment… I will not to refer to all the beautiful scenes comprising
this Atlantis; an Atlantis of much higher quality than the
one George Pal haphazardly put together 2 or
the one Edgar Ulmer 3 ostentatiously tried to modernise. The
of the "blond
superhuman" race, the fascist robots without eyes and
the denunciation of the slave crowds who only know to attack
their masters, without a strategic plan, and end up slaughtered
– these two observations, although utterly pessimistic, shatter
the crypto-Hitlerite Atlantis (that of the film Morning of
the Magicians) which is later annihilated by beautiful images
of volcanoes, scenes borrowed from Haroun Tazieff’s documentaries.
The masochistic Atlantis by Pierre BenoĒt has nothing to say
to defend itself. Antinea (Fay Spain) who trafficks drugs and
secret nuclear weapons will be defeated by her daughter (the
wonderful Laura Altan) and Hercules, who, having defeated Proteus,
in a Nietzschean tone says: "We, the other Greeks, love
nature as it was delivered to us by Gods: benevolent and frightening
at the same, harsh and very sweet."
According to its creator, Hercules Conquers Atlantis is the
result of a liberal spirit based on the philosophy of comics.
This film is the most balanced and elegant, in terms of the
writing, peplum I know. It is an extremely beautiful film although
one cannot clearly find many surprising elements, typical of
the director’s earlier "little films". One may wonder
if Cottafavi lost some of his inspiration when demystifying
the hero fighting injustice and the lost continent. I refuse
to believe that we can possibly be so clever any longer. However,
perhaps, in this case, the real culprit is the rhythm of the "chronicle";
a genre that does not favour difficult situations.
Positif", issue no. 50-52, March 1963.
1 Reference to Cottafavi’s previous film The
Revenge of Hercules (1960)
2 Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1961)
3 L’Atlantide (1960), modern remake of Pabst’s film (1932)
which was also a remake of a Jacques Feyder’s film (1921) –
all based on Pierre BenoĒt’s exotic novel.