Medea (1969)

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To win the kingdom his uncle took from his father, Jason must steal the golden fleece from the land of barbarians, where Medea is royalty and a powerful sorceress, where human sacrifice ... See full summary »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Laurent Terzieff ...
Giuseppe Gentile ...
Margareth Clémenti ...
Glauce (as Margareth Clementi)
Paul Jabara ...
Gerard Weiss ...
Second centaur
Sergio Tramonti ...
Apsirto, Medea's brother
Luigi Barbini ...
Gian Paolo Durgar ...
(as Gianpaolo Duregon)
Luigi Masironi
Michelangelo Masironi
Gianni Bradizi
Franco Jacobbi
Annamaria Chio ...
Wet-nurse (as Anna Maria Chio)


To win the kingdom his uncle took from his father, Jason must steal the golden fleece from the land of barbarians, where Medea is royalty and a powerful sorceress, where human sacrifice helps crops to grow. Medea sees Jason and swoons, then enlists her brother's aid to take the fleece. She then murders her brother and becomes Jason's lover. Back in Greece, the king keeps the throne, the fleece has no power, and Medea lives an exile's life, respected but feared, abandoned by Jason. When she learns he's to marry the king's daughter, Medea tames her emotions and sends gifts via her sons; then, loss overwhelms her and she unleashes a fire storm on the king, the bride, and Jason. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It's a movie about a woman who beheads her brother, stabs her children, and sends her lover's wife up in flames. For Maria Callas, it's a natural.


Drama | Fantasy


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Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

27 December 1969 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Medée  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to Richard Burton's diaries, Maria Callas very much wanted him to play Jason. Callas was despondent after her long-time lover, shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis, had dumped her for Jacqueline Kennedy, and while Burton was sympathetic, he declined the role, thinking it "thankless". See more »


When Jason speaks to the two centaurs, there is a mismatch in their shadows in the middle of the screen, indicating that the image is a composite. See more »


King Kresus: You are a barbarian from a foreign land, different from us. We don't want you among us. It is impossible to see into the depths of one's soul.
See more »


Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A Savage, Beautiful and Raw Medea
20 September 2004 | by (Portland, Maine) – See all my reviews

I first saw Medea in college and was highly critical of it, finding it disappointing on almost all counts: terrible sound editing, cheap film stock, over bright lighting, bizarre, amateurish acting styles, inadequately edited, etc. Then there was the extended murder scene of Glauce and Creon going seemingly on forever, and then . . . wait; what's this? It's repeated all over again? Did someone get the wrong reel into the house?

Another ten years went by before I watched it again and after the second viewing, found myself emotionally drained, my jaw on the floor with the realization that I'd just finished a film that alternately horrified, fascinated and astonished me.

Medea is a grim, violent, film, minimally processed which only adds to its gruesome, wild rawness. This is Pasolini's Medea, not Euripedes and it is not easy viewing. Its wild, African/Middle Eastern score with the nasal bleating of women's voices in near pre-historic sounding rhythmic chant adds further to the element of being "out there" this film produces: This is about as far away from popular cinema as one can get. Medea doesn't easily compare to films of any other style or genre; not even with some of Pasolini's other work. But, if you can succumb to its hypnotic, mesmerizing pace at once both frenetic and static - you will realize this is as about as close to a hallucinatory experience one can achieve without the use of an illegal substance. Granted, not everyone wants that experience.

As Medea, Callas is simply amazing. Oddly, when the film came out she was roundly criticized for not being able to transfer the magic she so naturally gave on stage to the big screen. I will strongly disagree. The more I watch this film (which is probably several times a year for well over a decade), the more amazed I am by her performance in it. Where I, too, had first been critical of her languid weirdness, I've grown to see her commitment to the role. I've come to be riveted to her painfully expressive mask as she completely inhabits this character who is, quite literally, capable of everything (yes - everything is the right word here).

Where I was once critical of the lighting, I've grown up to realize what Pasolini did; why he chose to film at the times of day he chose, and the resulting, fascinatingly brutal and surreal luminosity that bathes the entire film and the almost palpable sense of its visual texture. Stunning. The landscapes Pasolini chose to film in are as brutal and as vital as the characters of the tale. His near excision of all spoken text ( the screenplay is nearly dialogue free) brings us into a timeless, yet somehow ancient world where all is understood without the use of verbal communication. The savage, bloody rites of sacrifices for fertility and harvest initially seem barbarous then become somehow beautiful and fascinating. Then they make one cringe with the realization of how, not so long ago, this was us.

A remarkable, savage and beautiful film.

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