Thursday, 1 March 2012

Medea becomes a Goddess

I wasn't aware of Pasolini's 1969 film Medea before I stumbled across it on youtube (available subtitled in its entirety). Maria Callas as is perfectly cast as Medea. Perfectly. If I had drawn a picture in my head of Medea she would have Maria Callas' face and charisma.

What I loved about this film is its blend of humanity and mythology. Of all the Greek Tragedies, Euripides' Media is the one that has fascinated me most. Medea is 'the other'. A woman. A foreigner. A witch. She is the grand-daughter of Helios, the sun. And when Jason betrays her she kills not only his new bride, but her own children - his children - so that he is left with nothing.

And do you know what?

She gets away with it.

No grisly death for Medea. No Deus Ex Machina making pronouncements over her dead body. She IS the Deus Ex Machina. It is Medea herself who appears in her grandfather's dragon chariot bearing the bodies of her dead children. It is Medea who makes the pronouncements over Jason.

In my view, that suggests Medea is no longer human. Human rules and morality no longer apply. Her divine seed, inherited from Helios, has taken hold. She has become a goddess and as a goddess she can act with impunity.

Pasolini's film, Medea, captures this moment beautifully. The moment when she moves from being a betrayed wife to being the grand-daughter of the Sun. The beauty of this film is that throughout, the divine and the mortal war within her. Until the last you are uncertain which will take supremacy.

Her moment of transition is about 4 minutes into this clip. Enjoy.


Unknown said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Powerful clip here!! I've never seen this film, but it is now on my list for sure.

Interestingly enough, I wrote a short story retelling of Jason's Quest for the Golden Fleece. My story ended as Jason and Medea were returning from Colchis, which is to say that the drama of their relationship had not yet begun to unfold.

Jason and Medea is such a striking tale. Always been one of my faves.

Meg McNulty said...

I'm totally fascinated by it too! Be a great story to tell and explore...

Melpomene Selemidis said...

Brilliant Meg! Maria Callas is one of my passions & Pasolini brilliant. Been thinking about Medea a lot lately and itching to tell her story. Thank you.

mosaicology said...

Beautiful writing! Callas was extraordinary. The perfect actress for this role.

Meg McNulty said...

She was absolutely perfect. I think it was the only film she ever made? Impossible to think of anyone else in the role now!