UC Berkeley Library

Classical Figures in Film

Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) (Brazil, 1959)

Directed by Marcel Camus. The classical legend of Orpheus and Eurydice unfolds in an updated version against the riotously colorful background of the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. In the black section of the city, Orpheus is a street-car conductor and Eurydice a pretty country girl fleeing from a mysterious man sworn to kill her, a man who in the story represents Fate or Death. 103 min. ; Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Le Testament d'Orphee, ou ne me demandez pas (The Testament of Orpheus, or Do Not Ask Me Why.

Directed by Jean Cocteau. Cast: Jean Marais, Maria Casares, Francois Perier, Maria Dea. In his last film, Cocteau portrays an 18th century poet who travels through time on a quest for divine wisdom. In a mysterious wasteland, he meets several symbolic phantoms that bring about his death and resurrection. The film finished the circle of the journey begun in Blood of a Poet, exploring the torturous relationship between the artist and his creations. 1960. 79 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Director, Joel Coen. Cast: George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, Charles Durning, John Goodman, Michael Badalucco, Holly Hunter. Disenchanted with the daily drudge of a Mississippi prison farm, the silver-tongued Ulysses Everett McGill busts loose, still shackled to his two chain-gang mates. Loosely based on Homer's "Odyssey", this is the story of the three convicts and their adventures as they travel home in hopes of recovering buried loot before it's lost forever in a flood. 103 min.

Orphee (Orpheus)

Directed by Jean Cocteau. Cast: Jean Marais, Maria Casares, Marie Dea, Francois Perier. Depicts a famous poet scorned by the Left Bank youth, and his love for both his wife Eurydice and a mysterious princess. Seeking inspiration the poet follows the princess from the world of the living to the land of the deceased through Cocteau's trademark "mirrored portal," in this legendary tale in a modern Parisian setting. 86 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Orpheus Descending

Directed by Peter Hall. Cast: Vanessa Redgrave, Kevin Anderson, Anne Twomey, Miriam Margolyes. "Orpheus Descending" is the story of an itinerant guitarist, a latter-day Orpheus, who is destroyed when he descends into the arid hell of a small Southern town to rescue Lady from the impotent embrace of her cancer-doomed husband. The play is based on the character Orpheus from Greek mythology. Based on a play by Tennessee Williams. 1990. 117 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Phedre.

Directed by Pierre Jourdan. Based on: Phedre / Jean Racine. Cast: Marie Bell (Phedre), Jean Chevrier (Theramine), Jacques Dacqmine (Theseus), Claude Giraud (Hippolyte) A film version of the play by Jean Racine, this is a study of powerful human emotions in the style of the Greek tragedy. 1968. 93 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database

Politics(1931)

Directed by Charles F. Riesner. Cast: Marie Dressler, Polly Moran, Roscoe Ates. In this reworking of Lysistrata, a widow, Hattie (Marie Dressler), decides to run for mayor after her daughter gets involved with a young mobster who has been framed for murder. When the menfolk don't back Hattie, she encourages women to stop taking care of their husbands to force them to vote for her. Features Polly Moran as the campaign manager. 73 min.

Prometheus' Garden

Prometheus' garden: Claymation story inspired by the Greek myth of Prometheus, a Titan who created the first mortals from clay and stole fire from the gods. In Prometheus' Garden the viewer is immersed in a cinematic universe unlike any other. The dark and magical images of this haunting film unfold in a dreamlike stream of consciousness revealing an unlikely cast of clay characters engaged in a violent struggle for survival.

Ulysses (Ireland, 1967)

Directed by Joseph Strick. Cast: Milo O'Shea, Barbara Jefford, Maurice Roeves, T. P. McKenna, Anna Manahan. This film depicts a day in the life of Leopold Bloom, whose odyssey through the streets of turn-of-the-century Dublin leads him through trials that parallel those of Ulysses on his epic journey home. Based on the novel by James Joyce. 124 min. Credits and other information from the Internet Movie Database