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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Edipo Re (aka Oedipus Rex) (1967)

In an unspecified ancient land (not Greece but the exteriors were shot in Morocco), a seer tells a young man (Franco Citti) that he will kill his father and marry his mother. So rather then return home to his parents, he travels in the opposite direction where, unbeknownst to him, his destiny will be fulfilled. Pier Paolo Pasolini bookends his radical take on the Sophocles play with a 20th century prologue and epilogue with a dose of Freudian psychology as a young father (also played by Citti) jealously resents the young male infant that places demands on his wife (Silvana Mangano) which remove her emotionally if not physically from him. Pasolini divides the film into two parts. The first part is almost totally visual with very little dialogue and very little owing to Sophocles. The second part is a near faithful retelling of the Oedipus story. As cinema, it's a very intriguing and solid piece of work though handicapped by some inferior acting (with the rare exception, something Pasolini was never much concerned with). But make no mistake about it, this isn't Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, it's Pasolini's. Stylistically, he'd go back to the well two years later with a film version of Euripides' MEDEA with less success. With Alida Valli, Julian Beck and Carmelo Bene.

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