Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Wednesday Ruminations: New Heracles Film...


As I was thinking how long it was since my last rant (critique) of what filmmakers are doing wrong when adapting classical myths, there came along this "pearl". It left me speechless for a moment. I did not know what to make of it. I think that people take the phrase "open to interpretation" too literally when it comes to classical myths. This is the only explanation I can come up with that could be of any help in defence of this film.

I know it is not fair to judge a book by its covers. And I am not judging the film. I have not watched it yet. Fine, I am judging it, but it deserves nothing but scorn in any case. And after seeing the trailer I have no intention of giving it a second look. It is just.. Eh at this point I am content if they do not make brothers of what originally were father and son. And I have to give them props there, as far as it can be seen from trailer, they at least knew the lineage of Heracles and his family.

Hebe, Heracles's love interest in the movie was not a mortal. She was a goddess of Mount Olympus, cup bearer of gods bringing them ambrosia and nectar. Heracles only met and married her once he ascended and became one of the gods. back on Earth, his first wife was Megara. The marriage did not have a happy ending as Heracles killed her and their children in a fit of madness. Versions differ, and in some Megara is given to Iolaus, the nephew of Heracles.

Take a moment and let it sink in. Heracles kills his children in front of their mother in fit of madness that Hera threw at him, and then gives Megara to his nephew for wife. It is not nice, noble, or character of a hero as we know today. But let us move onto the movie. What else could I possibly pick out if we forgive this mismatched love interest?

Well, there is theater, gladiatorial combat in said theatre, and Heracles fighting in that theatre to appease the crowds. It seems as they wanted to make a cross between Ben Hur, and Gladiator, but instead got something between The Life of Brian and Clash of the Titans. Ok, maybe it is not that bad, but it is not that great either.

First things first.When Heracles became slave, he did so in order to repent himself for his crime. I believe it was another murder. This one from a fit of rage of his own. Heracles killed a lot of people out of anger, the first to fall victim to his rage was one of his teachers whom, if I recall correctly Heracles killed by throwing a musical instrument in his head. After that, he was sent to the plains and raised as a simple shepherd.

Heracles sold himself into slavery, where he wore women's clothing, and did the women's job, while his mistress (domina) wore his skin of Nemean lion. After that though, he took his skin, his cudgel made out of olive tree and went on adventuring.

Greeks never had gladiatorial games, and while it is implied he is a gladiator in Egypt, Egyptians did not know of gladiators either. It is too soon for Egypt to be part of Ptolemy dynasty as this would imply Alexander the Great is already dead, when in fact it is still about 800 years until Alexander would even be born.

So, why the hell are there gladiator games in Egypt, if that is Egypt, when the bloody Troy still stands and the Romans are far even from a nascent nation. Hell, they are practically nonexistent. While we are talking about Romans, Hercules is the latinised version of the greek name Heracles. Just a question, if you have a film in which they are all Greeks, and Romans nowhere around for another circa 700 years, why would you call him by the latinised version, while you call everyone else by their Greek name?

Heracles never relied on anyone, not even on Zeus. He had his own strength and he was grateful for that, and used it to best of his abilities, even if he did make Zeus a number of grey hair. Never did Heracles ask his father for help and then lay mayhem with his lightning whip. Never. Heracles knew from the day he was born, his father was Zeus. Nobody tried to hide it from him, or take it from him. The only one who did give him any hard time was Eurystheus, his cousin and ruler of Mycenae. You konw, the guy Heracles had to do those twelve labours for.

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