IMDb > Dionysus in '69 (1970)

Dionysus in '69 (1970) More at IMDbPro »


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Filmed stageplay based on the ancient greek play The Bacchae written by Euripides. This play is performed by members of The Performance Group... See more » | Add synopsis »
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User Reviews:
Extremely hard to find, though absolutely indispensable work. See more (4 total) »



Directed by
Brian De Palma 
Richard Schechner 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
William Arrowsmith 
Euripides  play "The Bacchae"

Cinematography by
Brian De Palma 
Film Editing by
Brian De Palma 

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
85 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Director Trademark: [Brian De Palma] [Split Screen]The entire film is shown in split screen.See more »
Movie Connections:
Version of A Dionysia (2015)See more »


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26 out of 29 people found the following review useful.
Extremely hard to find, though absolutely indispensable work., 5 May 2001
Author: Brad Mays (redmund) from Los Angeles, CA

Dionysus is not really a film as such, but a "from the hip" documentary "capture" of the Performance Group's legendary 1969 staging of Euripides' THE BACCHAE. Hugely inspired by the ground-breaking theatrical rituals of Polish director Jerzy Grotowski, DIONYSUS IN '69 (as the production was named) stirred up huge controversy amongst New York theatre audiences and critics alike.

Although the production was directed by Richard Schechner, Dionysus In '69 was created through a rehearsal process that was part democracy, part anarchy, part primal scream therapy. The final result was more a ritualized confrontation than conventional play, which culminated in a virtual orgy of audience participation. Nudity, profanity and huge amounts of stage blood were used to tremendous effect. Brian DePalma discovered the production and brought two NYU film maker friends of his into a special performance where multiple 16mm cameras were used to archive the iconoclastic proceedings in B&W. The final cut is an exercise in the "split screen" techniques which would eventually become DePalma's cinematic trademark.

The cast shows deep commitment to their material, and Bill Shepherd (later known as Will Shepherd) is particularly brilliant in the role of Pentheus. I will not go into the plot, which should be well-known to most college graduates, but will say that the original Euripides play (written about 500 B.C.) deals with the myth of Dionysus and his revenge upon the city responsible for his mortal mother's death.

I had the good fortune to direct Will Shepherd in my own film adaptation of THE BACCHAE, produced in October of 2000, where he played Cadmus, grandfather to the character he portrayed so brilliantly some thirty years before at the Performance Garage in New York.

I highly recommend the film DIONYSUS, if not for its filmic brilliance, then at least for its documentation of one of the true theatrical marvels of the late 1960's.

There are a number of 16mm prints of Dionysus floating around out there somewhere, but I'm not sure what company distributes the film, which is not available on video through

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