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The Odyssey

The Odyssey


5 out of 5 starsAncient Adventure

After watching this movie, I realized how tedious it would have been if the director had filmed feast after feast or all the details of the original story. He focused more on the adventures. Listening to 11 compact discs to hear the entire story is quite an odyssey itself, so if you don’t have a lot of time, the movie will save you a few hours.

The recording is about 12.5 hours in comparison with 165 minutes for the movie. There are many differences between the movie and the recorded book version. For one, Odysseus’ son leaves to look for his father early in the original story and in the movie, he seems to leave much later. The movie focuses more on the suitors and sailors.

The adventures of Odysseus are dramatic, exciting and interesting even to a contemporary audience. It is a story of a great warrior who is cursed by the gods and must wander the seas for years after the Trojan War.

It is also a story of how a man wishes to return home to his faithful wife all while he is “forced” to enjoy the pleasures of the islands. Although goddesses of great beauty take care of him in the islands, he does not seem to really enjoy being away from home.

Odysseus seems to have a girlfriend on every island and yet we forgive him and admire his wife. While he is enjoying the pleasures of the islands, his wife sits at home defending her very existence from a group of suitors bent on pursuing her to the end of time.

When considering a critical analysis of this movie, I had to look at the “acting” and “special effects.” There is beautiful scenery in Turkey and of course you have ships at sea and goddesses and gods causing havoc with the humans. Some of the more complex scenes were filmed in Malta. This was where they had a huge tank set up for the sea adventures. What they did with the special effects is pretty impressive.

The acting gets better as the story progresses. What you will notice is some “overacting” when the characters emphasis their emotions so strongly that the effect only causes you to laugh. Imagine a bunch of wrestlers hugging and crying. Yes, that funny. You should not be laughing when characters are crying, however, that is the effect because the overplaying of emotions becomes almost comical.

Andrei Konchalovsky's obviously had a vision for how he wanted the emotions to be played out onscreen although I think he dipped too far into extravagance and the viewer might consider it more insincere than tragic. However, if you consider how the individuals really might have acted, this is perhaps more true to ancient life. It is true that in the original Odyssey, men cry pitifully (passionate sobbing) and show their feminine side freely.

I especially loved seeing all the gods and goddesses in the movie. I loved Isabella Rossellini as the “clear eyed” goddess Athena. She was definitely a highlight in this movie. It seems she is rather fond of Odysseus, the king of Ithaca (Armand Assante) and with a twinkle in her eye, she sends him off to be brave. Her eyes are just amazingly beautiful in this movie. Some of the goddesses in this movie had dark hair and in the original they were “fair-haired” goddesses.

There is a creative use of waves to display the anger of Poseidon when Odysseus doesn’t give the gods credit for his successes. He is cursed and must wander on the ocean until the end of time.

Another highlight is the horse and ships. The Trojan Horse makes its appearance and is very well made, as are all the ships which were built in England. You will also be amazed by the special effects in Hades. As Odysseus descends into “hell/Hades” he is almost overwhelmed with the heat.

Some of the most bloody scenes I’ve ever seen occur in this movie, although they are not quite “horror.” Imagine bodies being gobbled up by hungry sea creature and blood splattering on a wooden deck or a Cyclops tearing a body apart to devour it. Because it happens during the daytime, the effect is not as intense.

The scenes in Troy are also fairly violent. There is also a fairly long scene at the end where men are locked up in a room and systematically slaughtered. This is for revenge so seems to have a point.

What I kept waiting for was a scene where Odysseus is bound to the ship’s mast as the sirens call to him and his men. This is a very short section in the original story, so they must have felt it was not as significant. However, it would have been spectacular on film.

Recommended to those who love Greek Mythology or who want to have a visual reference in your mind when ready or listening to the translation of The Odyssey by Homer.

If you are trying to decide if you like the Odyssey or the Iliad: The ending of the Odyssey is much more romantic and there is far more romance and beauty in the Odyssey. The Iliad ending will appeal more to men and the story seems to contain more “war” violence and has a much more definite focus on war.

Main message of this movie seems to be: “Man is nothing without the gods” or “never give up on your dream no matter if the gods try to stop you, you are captain of your fate in the end.”

The movie is more entertaining than listening to 12.5 hours of an Audio Book, yet if you watch the movie and then listen to the Audio Book, it takes on a new meaning. You then have a visual reference for all the adventure sections. I can recommend the movie for that aspect alone.

~The Rebecca Review




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