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Medea [Blu-ray]

Maria Callas , Pier Paolo Pasolini    Unrated   Blu-ray
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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The only movie made by Maria Callas, Medea nevertheless contains not a note of the great diva singing. And yet her presence is stunning, with a face (often seen in close-up) that cuts across the frame like a great phenomenon of nature. This raw, mostly wordless take on the Greek classic is a characteristic film from the influential Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini: intellectually sophisticated yet almost primitive in its feel. The weird, jagged locations and Pasolini's elliptical style contribute to the sense of violence already in the story, and the visual approach (realized by Gangs of New York production designer Dante Ferretti) brings in African masks and pagan rituals. If it's not quite satisfying as a treatment of the original Euripides play, it succeeds as a blunt experience in its own right. And tantalizingly suggests what Callas might have done had she opted for a movie career. --Robert Horton

Product Description

Studio: E1 Release Date: 12/06/2011 Run time: 110 minutes

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Pasolini has the dubious distinction of being the only great filmmaker who was murdered, possibly at the behest of a right-wing faction which loathed the openly gay, Marxist, atheist - and popular - artist. Whatever the facts of his death, his reputation as one of Italy's greatest talents is based securely on his poetry, novels, works of critical theory and, in particular, the 25 films he directed. They include such stylistically diverse works as Accatone (1961; adapted from his own novel about life in the slums of modern Rome), The Gospel According to Matthew (1964; a beautiful, moving film about Christ), a stunning version of the Arabian Nights (1974), and his last film, the most nauseating masterpiece I have ever seen, Salò (1975; the Marquis de Sade's 1780s novel updated to Mussolini's Fascist Italy). But Pasolini's most underrated film is his startling version of Medea (1969). Its recent release on DVD (from Vanguard-Cinema) makes this is an opportune time to revisit the ultimate incarnation of the adage, Hell has no fury like a woman scorned.
Pasolini takes a unique approach to Medea. He jettisons all but a few lines of Euripides, and begins the narrative many years before the action of the play. Most strikingly, he shoots almost the entire film in a documentary-like style. And, with a couple of notable exceptions, he creates a picture with almost no dialogue, although the soundtrack features an astonishing musical score (put together by Pasolini) of native North African wind and percussion music (20 years before Peter Gabriel's score for Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ, which was clearly inspired by Pasolini).
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well, it could have been worse Aug. 12 2003
Format:DVD
Pasolini fans have been struggling with low-quality DVD's since the advent of the format, and Medea is no exception. This disc, put out by Vanguard, is certainly a step above the Wellspring and Image Pasolini DVD's, but that really isn't saying much. The transfer is fairly dirty and washed-out, and the sound is very hissy. The punctuation in the subtitles is abominable. That being said, they are actually quite easy to read.
The film itself is good, although it doesn't reach the heights of Pasolini's earlier Oedipus Rex. The film is very slow, lacking a great deal of dialogue, until it explodes at the very end. It's a little convaluted, and I highly advise reading a summary of the story before delving into the film.
While Medea isn't Pasolini's best film, it's certainly not his worst DVD. Worth a rental, at least.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Ancient Woman Jan. 26 2004
Format:DVD
Just as Pasolini said,"I draw on the mysterious sensibilities in Maria Callas". He finds Callas to be "an ancient woman" in the sense that she is directly linked to myth and legend. With very little spoken word Callas manages to convey all the pride, rage, and black art that comprises the legend of Medea. Set against an incredibly dramatic backdrop the viewer is nearly hypnotized by this savage story of lust and power.
To the reviewer who thought that the repeated scene of the death of the king and his daughter was a technical error, watch it carefully again. Medea dreams the act of revenge first, then sets it into motion and the dream becomes reality. This is in all the films of this I have seen. It is not a mistake.
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