Volume 35 Number 1

Martin M. Winkler (Ed.)

Classics and Cinema

1991
283 pages
ISBN 0838751989
Bucknell Review

Classical Greece and Rome have been a staple of the cinema since its earliest beginnings. Films dealing with antiquity or reflecting archetypes of classical literature or mythology have in their own ways managed to express the fascination that the ancient world has always exerted on the popular imagination. This volume of the Bucknell Review is intended to illustrate the continuance of classical antiquity by focusing on some of the connections between ancient and our own societies as revealed in the medium of film. Classical myths and archetypes recurring in the cinema attest to the vitality of this cultural tradition. Film versions of classical texts usually contain features worth examining, and cinematic retelling of ancient stories may show that writers or directors have used the old material consciously in order to comment on their own times or unconsciously reflect cultural trends. The ancient material may become imbued with a creative art and intelligence not readily apparent to a casual viewer. Openly commercial films set in antiquity, whose historical or mythological accuracy may leave much to be desired, can still reward a close engagement with their underlying qualities. Even genre films, which at first sight have nothing in common with the ancient world, may build on foundations in antiquity, particularly those relating to heroic myths. Classics and Cinema contains essays on films that overtly deal with antiquity and with films that have recourse to archetypal mythological or literary themes. The contributors, all classical scholars, intend their papers to be representative of various approaches to the subject at hand and to give an indication of the range such exploration may take. They also demonstrate the classics is a discipline capable of combining methods of traditional scholarship with an openness to modern critical thought in approaching the ancient cultures and the classical tradition. At the same time the authors believe that an appreciation of our own culture - and this popular culture - may be enhanced by an examination of the cinema, our primary visual art form, from a classical perspective. Today, film is an effective means to make antiquity more readily accessible and to throw light on our own age as well. Thus the papers in this volume deal with films as cultural artifacts that deserve consideration as works of high or popular art. The authors apply methods of literary scholarship to emphasize film's importance as a form of narrative. The volume also contains a photo essay by writer-director Michael Cacoyannis on his film version of Euripides' Iphigenia and interviews with him and actress Irene Papas. The diversity of content and approach found here will make Classics and Cinema interesting reading not only to academic specialists in classics and related areas of the humanities, such as English, comparative literature, and film studies, but also to general readers and lovers of both literature and film.

Contributors: Peter W. Rose, Frederick Ahl, Erling B. Holtsmark, Kristina M. Passman, J. K. Newman, Marianne McDonald, Michael Cacoyannis, Martin M. Winkler, Mary-Kay Gamel, James R. Baron, J. P. Sullivan, and Jon Solomon.

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