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Medea

It's worth stressing the position of Medea in Pasolini's work, since it makes much the most sense when seen in context: it followed Pigsty (whose twin-level structure it duplicates, this time within a single narrative), and preceded the much-abused trilogy (whose rumbustious humour and sexuality were apparently a reaction against the outright nihilism evident here). That said, the film stands as Pasolini's most bizarre exploration of Freudian themes through Marxist eyes: a retelling of Medea's story (elopement, marriage, desertion, revenge) as a mixture of social anthropology and ritual theatre, with every incident given both a 'magic' and a 'rational' reading. Its splendours crystallise in the casting of Callas as Medea, a virtual mime performance with her extraordinary mask of a face bespeaking extremes of emotion; its weaknesses, equally, in the casting of Gentile as Jason, blandly butch, whose presence does nothing to fill out an ill-sketched, passive role. But the real achievement is that Pasolini's visual discourse is every bit as eloquent as the verbal one he puts in the mouth of Terzieff's centaur.

Release details

Duration: 118 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini
Screenwriter: Pier Paolo Pasolini
Cast: Maria Callas
Giuseppe Gentile
Laurent Terzieff
Massimo Girotti
Margareth Clementi
Anna Maria Chio
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