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This fine adaptation of Homer's epic tale is superbly directed by Andrei Konchalovsky and is one of the best adaptations of Greek mythology ever captured on screen. Effectively cast throughout,the acting honours must surely go to Armand Assante who shines as Odysseus creating not your stereotypical 'sword and sandal' hero but an older,wiser and intelligent warrior king who endures every trial the gods throw at him as he journeys home from the Trojan war. The war itself is dismissed with rather too quickly but as that was the subject of Homer's other great work "THE ILIAD" this is excusable.Less easy to excuse is the omission of Odysseus's encounter with the sirens which is an integral part of the legend and which was quite well done in the 1954 Italian version of the tale starring Kirk Douglas.Other gods and monsters,however are excellently done especially the cave monster Scylla. A quality production which deserves to be seen by a world-wide audience,this giant amongst mini-series has never been shown on British t.v.( probably because there are no policemen or doctors in it)or released on video. With NTSC compatible video recorders now widely available in the U.K. I strongly advise obtaining the superb American video of "THE ODYSSEY" for anyone whose tastes run to mythic fantasy yarns like "JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS" to which this is very similar.Why do the likes of George Lucas try to create their own mythology when there is so much untapped material like this they could be making instead?....Go figure.
This is probably the best TV movie of all time. Odysseus is the perfect hero for the aging 1st world population, with his use of guile to triumph when strength is not enough. Despite the fact that one of my favorite parts of The Odyssey is left out, when Odysseus returns home after 20 years, his faithful pet Argus awaiting him, only to die after one greeting; I think this is an incredibly arresting film. Armand Assante is surprising terrific as Odysseus. He conveys with his expressions the depth of thought and emotion which characterized Odysseus. All the more amazing when one considers that Odysseus was an Achaean, a tall, fair race of people, though Odysseus was, himself, described by Homer as one of middle stature, for an Achaean, no doubt. This movie makes the tales of Homer seem more real than any film I have ever seen. The emotions of all are complex and real. The mutual love and devotion of Odysseus and Penelope are portrayed in a beautiful and believable way by the actors. The scene in which Odysseus returns to take back his kingdom is brutally and believably real. I cannot say enough good things about this movie. It should be required in the schools.
I thoroughly enjoyed the book of the epic, which I read recently, and was
pleasantly surprised to find this on video.
Obviously, there are significant omissions, edits and rewrites from the original - and quite long - text, not to mention the change to a standard timescale (rather than using constant flashbacks and anecdotes as in Homer's tale). Having said that, a surprising amount of detail did make it into this film, and the locations especially were almost all perfect - just as I'd imagined them. I even 'recognised' places before they were mentioned by name. Kudos to the production team.
Where the story is simplified, it is done carefully and logically, and leaves in virtually all of Odysseus's more fantastic adventures - dispensing with most of the hospitality, minor characters' subplots - Telemachus' journey is over in seconds - and (unfortunately) with any scenes on Mount Olympus. The net effect is of the story told entirely from Odysseus' viewpoint, while keeping an eye on events back at his palace in Ithaca.
I'll not go too far into the story - since that is why you'll be watching in the first place - but I will say that the special effects are mostly quite good, and don't detract in any way. Of the entire cast I only found Telemachus to be somewhat whiney & annoying, but you manage. Casting is generally very good (especially Calypso - wow).
If there is a problem with this film, it is that by cutting out so much of the rituals, travel and more complicated deceptions, it takes away much of the scale, grandeur and 'epic'ness of it all - while still taking 3 hours to watch. A lot of the ritual and repetition of the original text is actually a large part of its charm (as well as an entirely necessary story-telling mechanic), and I think it could be adapted in full if turned into a short series.
In summary, this is a decent version, but you'll get the most enjoyment out of this film if you've already read The Odyssey (which, as with most book/film adaptations, is significantly better). If you're thinking of watching this instead of reading The Odyssey - please don't. You'll have trouble getting into the text if you think you know what's coming next.
And for the cast & crew of this film - well done. I wish there were a bit more ambition amongst TV and film companies these days.
This is a fine, beautifully crafted version of Homer's The Odyssey.
Armand Assante gives a sterling performance as the King of Ithica,
who's journey to return from the siege of Troy leads him on a 20-odd
year quest to find his way home to his beloved wife Penelope.
If you have read The Odyssey, you will know what kind of challenge it would have been to adapt it into a coherent film and the filmmakers here did a superb job. In capturing all of the excitement, enticement and rollicking adventure of the epic, they brought to life a superlative story rich in imagination.
Kudos to the fine cast, including Eric Roberts as Eurymachus, Greta Scacchi as Penelope and an arresting cameo by Christopher Lee as the blind prophet Tiresias. Eduard Artemyev melodious score only adds to the epic feel.
Not without flaws (Troy is skimmed by a little too fast, and some of the visual effects are a little clunky), but the human element of the story is well dramatized. A supremely entertaining epic.
Having been forced to read The Odyssey several times throughout school in
clunky and stale translations, it was very refreshing to see the story
brought to life like an action movie. I don't want to sound shallow by
emphasizing that aspect of the epic because I do understand and appreciate
the subtler nuances and motifs of Homer's poem. However, to take it out of
the classroom and turn it into a popcorn movie does not do it injustice. In
fact, it gave me a better appreciation of the story and a shot in the arm to
give the print version another try. Which I did. And I really enjoyed it
this time. Probably the fact that I didn't have an essay assignment
breathing down my neck on my last reading helped immeasurably.
Anywho, I think Armand Assante was an inspired choice for Ulysses and the supporting cast was very well-chosen too, especially Greta Scacchi and Nicholas Clay. The Scylla/Charibdis and Hydra segments were the most thrilling. Perhaps the FX weren't always top-notch, but this is TV, folks. It definitely had a storybook feel to it with the bright colors and understandable dialogue. Now, if they will only make a TV miniseries of The Iliad......
I watched this movie last evening after not seeing it for at least four
years and was completely absorbed by it again. I used to show it to my year
eight high school classes as a tie-in to our introductory ancient history
syllabus and the movie was well received. One of the most important aspects
of movie/doco watching for adolescents is the time a particular scene stays
before their eyes-the longer it stays the sooner adolescent-fidget sets in
and the movie/doco, regardless of its inherent strength, is lost for them.
Seen from this perspective, The Odyssey is a superbly made
Besides this superlative editing, the strength of the characters is dominant from the opening scenes and simply becomes stronger as the movie progresses, climaxing with the wonderful Calypso scene near the end. Vanessa William's superb rendition of her character is but a mirror of the other great acting roles distributed throughout the movie. It says much about the film adaptation of a mythological work that is roughly three thousand years old that the actors can make the essential humanness of the epic ring true. Dare I say it was "believable!"
If you want to view an extremely watchable movie then make every attempt to see this one-in my opinion, everything about it is fabulous!
My husband and I just read the Odyssey together and this film was such a wonderful visualization! The settings, the sea, the magical gods' voices and appearances were absorbing and believable. I especially enjoyed the costuming; we see frozen images of people in ancient Greek dress but they moved with the wearers, just as our clothes do, and they helped create a very sensual impression of ancient Greek life. Although the interiors were a little bare, they were believable too and I enjoyed the colors and paintings that gave life to otherwise stony buildings. I have visited much of the Mediterranean and love the bleached ruins of the Greeks and Romans, but they had colors when they were new--it was exciting to see them that way. The actors were also believable, esp. Assant as Odysseus, conveying both drama and excitement. Some viewers seem to miss the fact that Odysseus survived the Trojan war and would have gotten home faster if he had not offended Poseidon, the god of the sea, by bragging about his performance. Poseidon makes sure he suffers before he reaches home, enlisting his relatives and friends, while Odysseus persists in his goal of reaching his loving wife and home. Altogether a terrific film. I want a DVD version to watch it again--the library video we saw had some jumpy places!
"The Odyssey", purportedly the work of the same man who wrote "The Iliad", is a long epic poem which is world-renowned as a tale of adventure. The greatness of this adaptation is that the ethical central character, Odysseus or 'Ulysses', King of Ithaca, is treated as the first man in history able to think rationally--to control his passions. The filmmakers do not spend more than a few minutes on the "Odysseys" background, the war by the ancient Argives' alliance against the city of Ilium or "Troy". The thrust of the piece is the wanderings undertaken by Ulysses AFTER he returns home safely from that war. His wife Penelope waits for him; his family never gives up. But meanwhile, even as his son grows, the kingdom's nobles grow bolder. They demand Penelope marry one of them, since they believe Ulysses is dead. By night, Penelope unweaves what she has woven of her wedding dress during daylight. The bulk of the film follows Ulysses on what amounts to a shipborne Cook's tour of fictionally-reworked famous ancient places about the Mediterraean, to confrontations with the man-eating Cyclops and his herd of sheep, with Circe the goddess who can transform men into swine, with the Lotos eaters and the Gulf of the world. This movie is a special-effects extravaganza with high-tech effects and a solid cast to back up the adventure by way of intelligent direction and good dialogue. The very large made-for-television epic was directed by Andrei Konchalovsky. Konchalovsky did the adaptation and Christopher Solimine the teleplay. The bright cinematography for a very long and colorful adventure was the work of Sergei Kopzlov, the original music composed by Eduard Artemyev; the elaborate set decorations were done by Kren Brooks, with costumes by Charles Knode. The outstanding production design was the achievement of Roger Hall. In the huge cast, Armand Assante seemed an intelligent Odysseus save that he lacked a classical speech training. Greta Scacchi was Penelope, Isaballa Rossellini Athena, Irene Papas Anticleia, and Jeroen Krabbe King Alcinous. Vanessa Williams played Calypso, Christopher Lee Tiresias, Bernadette Peters Circe and Geraldine Chaplin played Eurycleia. Many others enacted the parts of persons in the Trojan War, the suitors at Ithaca's court, assorted divinities and personages encountered by Odeysseus and his mates in the course of his ship's many adventures. Katie Carr was Nausicaa, who helped him when he was shipwrecked; and Alan Stenson portrayed Odysseus's son Telemcahus. From the Trojan sequences to the slaughter of the offending nobles by team-Ulysses, he in disguise using an ancient horn-bow only he could string to perform the deed, this is an exciting, eye-filling and well-planned cinematic adventure. It was a great surprise when it was offering among many mean-streets naturalistic films in 1997. Not to be missed.
I am a big fan of fantasy movies and more if it concerns mythologic episodes. Next to Jason and the Argonauts we also have the Odyssey which is according to me a wonderful movie. Homerus classical epos about Odysseus and the movements after the fall of Troy have been filmed in a magnificent way in the Odyssey. The gods make Odysseus and his men to puppets in a game. They push them to make long trips which delay their trip with years and bring them in conflict with Circe, the cyclope and Poseidon. Finally Odysseus even enters the underworld. In the meanwhile the wife of Odysseus, Penelope must get the men away from her, who want to have the properties of Odysseus. They think that he is dead, but with the help Athens he continues searching his way home. This movie receives from me a 8 out of 10 because it is an enjoyable movie which also gives you some history lessons, so 2 flies in 1 hit, a good movie and education. Well done !!!!!!!!!!!
Okay I first saw this movie when I was in 9th grade.We watched it after reading the book.I thought it was a pretty good movie from the start.The special effects were considerably good.Armand Assante played an Excellent Odysseus....I liked Armand's portrayal more than Sean Bean's (Troy).I love Greek mythology and I love this movie.I plan on buying it on DVD.The scene where the old man shoots the arrow through the loops to reveal Odysseus is amazing.Then he says "your crime is that you tried to steal my world" that part was awesome.I think if you are into Greek mythology you will like this movie.They show it on the sci-fi channel every once in a while so I think you should definitely check it out.Like it says in my summary....for a made for TV film it does pretty well.
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