This Italian MTV work includes ,with some cuts here and there,Eugene O'Neill's trilogy "death becomes Elektra" ;it is given a rather faithful treatment halfway between theater and cinema.
The first pictures consists of masks (O'Neill's often hints at the mask-like look of the faces),which is a very good idea because it's the story of a curse ;the Mannon (Agamennon) family ,like the Atreides ,cannot escape their fate .
The three plays of the trilogy follow on each other,without transition;except for a nostalgic wistful rendition of "Shenandoah",the score is as lugubrious as the settings ("the white Grecian temple portico..".)
The two main actresses,Lidia Alfonso and the great Alida Valli ,are outstanding as Lavinia (Electra) and Christine (Clytemnestra);in the last part ("the haunted" ) the former resembles her mother,just as depicted in the play.
Freudian undertones abound: Christine ,in love with Orin (Orestes) ,who can't forgive her husband (and her daughter) for having sent him to war (Brent ,who also seeks revenge against the Mannon is only a substitute);Lavinia who urges her brother to punish the criminals ,is also in love with her dad .
Superimposed pictures show Orin's war but they do not do the writer justice ("war meant murdering the same man over and over(...) in the end the man was myself" "(....)in dreams they change to Father's face .No visual equivalent of Orin "pursued by the furies" .
In "the haunted" except for Peter (Pylades) and Hazel ,who still believe in the human happiness,knowing nothing about the human condition,all the characters in the doomed mansion are ghosts or half-dead :Orin is haunted ,not only by the soldiers he killed in the Civil War ,but also all those restless ghosts of the Mannon Mansion ("remember only that dead hero and not his rotting corpse" he says to Hazel )Lavinia ,the only surviving member of the family will pay the higher price,doomed to seek into oblivion,ghost among the ghosts:Lidia Alfonso,asking to throw out all the flowers and entering the house she will never leave till her death,portrays an impressive tormented Lavinia;the scenes she shares with Alida Valli in "the hunted" takes the movie out on a level of stratospheric intensity that rises above the rest of this version of O' Neill's masterpiece
The crude bet Seth and Small make is included but it is given a "hide and seek" treatment whereas we were expecting a Poesque Gothic madness.
By and large ,this is a satisfying rendition of the play,refusing any embellishment ,never taking the easy way out : the settings look like a mausoleum ,in a stark black and white,and the mask-like look of the faces indicates that tragedy had already occurred when the story began.
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