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As it was already put, the best version ever of Homer's epic. Entirely
shot in natural locations in the Mediterranean. The sea and the sky are
strikingly blue, the islands green and untouched. The clothing is
linen, wool and fur, the settings stony and bare, everything is
somewhat rugged and primitive, a bit what you would find in Cacoyannis
or Pasolini movies, and it makes it all the more authentic. Although
the story is based on myths and widely goes into supernatural, it gives
us a good idea of what life in the 10th century BC might have been
The rhythm is somewhat slow and austere, but the whole is so beautiful that you quickly get into it. Actually, it is amazingly close to the original plot by Homer, if not to the text itself. Ulysses doesn't appear until the first hour, the start being centered on his son looking after him. Then he suddenly appears lost in a storm, lands on the island of the Pheacians where the royal family takes good care of him. His adventures are told in flashback as a narration to his hosts : the terrifying Cyclop, the magic world of Circe, the Underworld, the Sirens etc. He finally comes back to his homeland Ithaca after 20 years, and it all ends dramatically with the killing of the pretenders of his faithful spouse Penelope.
As a story, the Odyssey is an unparalleled metaphor of the struggles of a man's life. The cast is brilliant and international here. Irene Papas gives us a typical Greek tragedy style performance as Penelope, but most amazing is the Albanian actor Bekim Fehmiu as Ulysses. Really good looking and totally convincing, it seems the role was really made for him. Strange that he was never offered roles of this dimension afterwards. Also playing Nausicaa is Barbara Bach (as Barbara Gregorini) later famous as the James Bond girl in "The Spy Who Loved Me", and playing Athena is Michele Breton, who was otherwise noted in the strange movie called "Performance" with Mick Jagger.
As it was done 35 years ago, the series was actually quite an innovation for its time, as the first big European co-production for TV (Italy, France, Germany and Yugoslavia). I have seen this mini-series in 8 parts on French television as far back as 1974. I was a kid back then, and although it was all in black and white, it left a very vivid impression. All my life long I wondered if I would ever get a chance to see it again, as it was never shown on French TV later on.
I recently found a copy on DVD (all in wonderful color) through Internet. It is unfortunately only in Italian with no subtitles, although French and German versions existed back then. I never heard there was any English version of this film as it is widely unknown in the Anglo Saxon world, and it's quite a shame. If you ever get a chance to watch this, you are not going to forget it ever.
There were not many versions of the Odyssey before or after that. The one by Camerini in 1955 starring Kirk Douglas is a classic sword-and-sandal like "the 10 Commandments", but not as impressive and very short for such a complex story. The one in 1997 by Konchalovsky is a meretricious Hollywood movie, based on special effects, sometimes quite gory, very poorly acted and grossly afar from Homer's story and atmosphere.
I've been trying to find out about this series for ages! Thank you, IMDb! I saw this as a child and have never quite been able to get it out of my mind. As a 6-year old, of course, I was particularly struck by the episode of the cyclops, which was absolutely chilling (I talked about it so much that my older brother made me a cyclops out of a plastic cave man figurine, which I still have) What I also remember, though, was the atmosphere, which was unusual right from the beginning - mysterious, austere, and extremely authentic. When I read the original many years later I experienced that same sensation. It's a very hard thing to capture - and probably impossible in Hollywood. Every 'Odyssey' I've seen since has been an enormous let-down. The characters in this series seemed genuine, real people - ancient Greek people - and not some Hollywood stars in costumes. This is a real masterpiece! But - Why is it not better known? And why isn't it available on VHS or DVD? I would just love to have the chance to see this again!
This European TV mini-series has haunted me since I first viewed it with my parents over 20 years ago. Irene Pappas is superb as Penelope. The actor playing Ulysses seems to truly embody my image of the archetypal "thinking man's hero." The rhythm and pacing; the sets and location; the sense of death, longing and loss - "nostalgia" - from the Greek, "a longing for home" - are imbued in each scene. I remember asking my parents many questions about these strange doomed characters and their fate. And decades later,I remember the intensity with which we watched this production. It spurred me to seek a deeper understanding of Homer's work. Too bad the producers of this year's "Troy" (2004) didn't try and emulate this masterpiece. I'd appreciate any information on how I could obtain a DVD/video copy.
It's very simple to qualify that movie: "A PURE MASTERPIECE". This opinion is formulated for the following reasons: the performance of the actors, they seem to be citizens of that epoch, 1100 B.C. They personalize perfectly the characters. A second reason is that the poetry expressed by Homere in his poem is well given by the production. Among others the narrations made by the chorus give a particular atmosphere that makes us party of the artistic rendition. Third reason: the reconstitution of the decor is absolutely perfect, in Mediterranean regions, where the action of the poem occurred. And most of all, the emotion is on the rendezvous. I repeat my appreciation: "A PURE MASTERPIECE".
Although I have not seen this mini-series in over twenty years I can still remember how the balance between character,plot and tale of marvelous adventures succeeded. The use of special effects was restrained making a more poetic rather than literal telling of the story. The two versions I've seen were dubbed (English and French)but the actors appear to speak their own language not just Italian so there is a synchronization problem. It does not spoil the story telling. Among the cast Irene Pappas as Penelope is the most recognizable to North Americans. Recommended to all followers of Odysseus' ever returning.
In all honesty, this series is as much a classic (as television goes)
as the original poem is to the world's literature. Far from being
crassly exploitative, it is a beautiful and respectful rendering of one
of the western culture's defining texts.
I was moved by the plight of Odysseus and his followers; touched by the drama of the fall of Troy (which was felt but not seen); intrigued by the way the gods played with the fate of mortals. (It should be mentioned that the gods appearing here are not ridiculous CGI creatures flitting around on their ankle wings, or poorly-cast fashion models in bikinis. As in Homer's work, they act through mortal agents or, rarely, are represented by classical statuary).
It's a pity it's not available in DVD, especially given the vastly inferior and cheesy adaptations of the Odyssey that one can find in video stores.
I'm Italian and when I've recently looked again this film I astonished
for its beauty: the first time I was 10 years old and I liked it, but
today I can appreciate it with adult mind and feelings. Now I can
understand it was a masterpiece of a special season of the Italian
cinema (Pasolini etc.), by that time gone.
The Hollywood epic films are good...for fun. Perhaps this 'Odyssey' had no English version because is not enough funny... not suitable for pop-corn and coke audience. However suitable for Homer pathos and existentialist reflections.
In Italy was recently released a very good DVD version: INTEGRAL, with excellent colors. You can find it in some file sharing, but it's Italian only, and without subtitles. Too bad: also the dialogs and the voices of this film are remarkable.
The Odyssey as a book is a masterpiece of world literature by itself. Sadly enough, every movie version of Homers epic, hardly make any impression on me, and from comments below I can see I'm not the only one.But seeing this version was entirely different experience. I don't know why, but no movie ever awake in me such sense for longing, nostalgic, a feel for time that past by, like this series. I was delighted to find Italian subs for deaf persons & translate it to my native Serbian.Latter, on my vacation on Kefalonia & Ithaca, I'v got desire to translate to English, and partly as a homage to Bekim Fehmiu who commit a suicide at that time in Belgrade. With only few minor diversions from Homer, F. Rossi made this series as best adaptation of any classical work, as by my opinion.Omittion of Scylla & Charibdes was probably due to budget constraints. Also, displacing the episode with Lestrygonians into openings of Odysseus story (& reducing Odysseus fleet to one ship), he cunningly enable himself easier & cheaper (but equally effective) performance.In places where he change Homer (ex.suitors decide to string bow day after failed competition), he does so artistically, that I have impression that even Homer would congratulate him. With obviously only two constructed ships (one large & one small-that of Telemachus), he accurately depicted on of most famous sea voyages in history.Unique depiction of ships, cities, Trojan horse or Odysseus bow just adds to astonishment. Dialogues are special thing in this series:natural, proverbial, romantic & never boring.Actors plays in such manner, that I cant remember anyone who deserves any critic. This series also affect me to look on another works of Franco Rossi. Thus I watch Eneid (1971), which is mostly deficient comparing to his previous work (ie Odissea), but have nice description of destruction of Troy & still its only full film version of Vergil epic.My recommendations.
This movie of 370 minutes was aired by the Italian public television
during the early seventies. It tells you the myth attributed to Homer
of the Journey home of Odysseus after the Troy war. It is an epic story
about the ancient Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations, told at list 500
years after those events toke place, around 1100 BC.
This is a 1969 movie, so if you buy the DVD version you would find that the sound is just mono and there is no other language than Italian, even the close caption is in Italian. Pity. Many people would enjoy this masterpiece if it had at list the English subtitles. But if this is not a problem for you, than I would strongly recommend to watch this movie.
Of all the versions of the Odyssey (or of any Greek mythological story for that matter), this in my opinion is the best of them all. Almost true to the original storyline - with some minor deviations and omissions, e.g. the absence of Scylla & Charybdis and the fact that Odysseus's fleet of ships is reduced to just one instead of the original 12- the realistic acting and authentic scenery and costumes all contribute to make this a truly memorable masterpiece, not just another sword-and-sandal Hollywood production B-flick. Notwithstanding the fact that the dialogue and subtitles are completely in Italian, if one is familiar with the storyline, he can still make heads and tails of what is going on and what the actors are saying (provided you have a good handy text of the Odyssey at hand). At least I did, and so much so that it has inspired me to study the Italian language to better appreciate the movie even more.
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