Medea (1969 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Medea (1969 film).jpg
Directed byPier Paolo Pasolini
Written byPier Paolo Pasolini
Based onMedea by Euripides
StarringMaria Callas
Music byPier Paolo Pasolini
Elsa Morante
CinematographyEnnio Guarnieri
Edited byNino Baragli
Release date
Running time
106 minutes
West Germany

Medea is a 1969 Italian film directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, based on the ancient myth of Medea. Filmed in Göreme Open Air Museum's early Christian churches, it stars opera singer Maria Callas in her only film role. She does not sing in the movie.


Jason, an exiled prince, is raised to adulthood by Chiron, a centaur. Chiron encourages him to see the beauty and sacredness in reality, but also realizes that Jason will become rational, lose any sense of spirituality, and travel the world as an adventurer. When he becomes a man, Jason confronts his uncle, Pelias, who had killed Jason's father and usurped the throne. Pelias tells Jason he will restore the throne to Jason if he can travel to Colchis and retrieve the Golden Fleece. Jason assembles his Argonauts and they endure a difficult voyage.

In Colchis, Medea leads her people in fertility rite. A young man is offered up as a human sacrifice and his organs and blood are sprinkled over the crops in a ritual sparagmos. Jason arrives, and though he has been terrorizing the surrounding countryside, Medea immediately falls in love with him. With the aid of her brother Absyrtus she steals the Golden Fleece for Jason. They join the fleeing Argonauts, but the Colchians pursue them. Medea kills her brother and dismembers his body. Her father's men are then forced to halt and retrieve the scattered pieces of his son's body, enabling Jason and Medea to escape.

When they return to Jason's homeland, Pelias reneges on his promise. Deciding the fleece has little power after all, Jason accepts this decision. Medea is stripped of her ornate ethnic garb and dressed in the garments of a traditional Greek housewife. She bears Jason two sons. But he grows tired of her and decides to pursue a political marriage to a Corinthian princess, Glauce. Chiron reappears to Jason, as both a centaur and a human, to remind Jason that this is his and Medea's destiny. The enraged Medea plots revenge against Jason and his new bride and sends Glauce a robe bewitched with magic herbs. Although Medea intends for the poison to cause the princess and her father, Creon, to burst into flames; instead Glauce and Creon are driven insane and leap to their deaths.

Medea kills her and Jason's sons and sets fire to their house. Held back by the fire, Jason pleads with Medea to let the children have a proper burial. From the midst of the flames, she refuses: "It is useless! Nothing is possible anymore!"


Home Video Release[edit]

The film was released on Blu-ray in Region 2 by the British Film Institute and was also made available on the BFI Player streaming service.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]