Filmed stageplay based on the ancient greek play The Bacchae written by Euripides. This play is performed by members of The Performance Group, an NYC experimental theater group who has made... See full summary »
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The god Dionysus comes to Thebes, home of his late mortal mother, Semele. To ward off a terrible drought, young king Pentheus is willing to sacrifice the virgin Manto to Demeter. Dionysus demands to be worshiped instead. Pentheus spurns him, but Dionysus wins over the populace with gifts of magical wine and ecstatic celebration. He also wins the devotion of the beautiful Dirce. Will Pentheus get his comeuppance? Will Dionysus remain in Thebes with Dirce? As the playwright Euripides concluded, "The end anticipated has not been consummated. But god has found a way for what no man expected. So ends the play."
Michel Eloy at his peplums.info site calls it (I translate from the French) "certainly the most astonishing of the mythological peplums of the Sixties, including whole recitations from the sacred tragedy of Euripides along with other myths of the Theban Cycle (the death of Actaeon, Manto the daughter of Tiresias, Athamas and the drought), all integrated into the requisite motifs of the genre: palace intrigue, thwarted young lovers, a popular uprising..."
There is a gorgeous widescreen DVD of this movie (in Spanish only) from the Cine Epico series in Spain. For curiosity value alone, it rates a 7 on my scale; it's both startlingly intellectual and outrageously campy (especially the choreography by Herbert Ross, who went on to direct THE TURNING POINT, FOOTLOOSE, etc.); that this movie was ever made is such a miracle that I'll overlook its obvious limitations. This is, after all, the sword and sandal version of one of the most challenging Greek tragedies, and as such it subverts its original source material even as it celebrates it. (Instead of Euripides' hair-raising finale, we get a sword fight, alas.)
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