Iphigenia

| May 23, 2016

Apparently this is based on a real greek myth.  I mean an actual ancient greek story, not a greek myth that really happened in the real world, or maybe it did?  I don’t know where the line between legend and reality lies when it comes to the works of Eurpides and Homer.  Someone comment and tell me if Agamemnon and company are real people or not.

In either case, this is a great story that I had never heard before.  I’ve heard the before and after many times, in many forms, but every other incarnation of the story of the Trojan War starts with Paris’s seduction of Helen, taking her back home to Troy, where he is pursued by the immense Greek army to take her back and conquer the city of Troy.  This movie however tells the story of the Greek army being forced to wait for the winds to pick up so they can launch their 1000 ships towards Troy and quench their thirst for war.  Sounds a little boring, but things escalate quickly when Agamemnon, in an attempt to win the gods favor and raise the winds for his ships, agrees to pay them a blood sacrifice: his oldest daughter Iphigenia.

The movie is a little too long, and it definitely drags in places that make it feel more boring, but the personal stakes for Agamemnon, who is a typically vilified character drunk on power and ruthless in his mission to conquer Greece.  However, in this film, his relationships with his wife, Klytaimnistra, as well as Iphigenia make him a much more grounded and human character.  To see him struggle with the decision to kill his own daughter so his army can have their war before they turn on him as their king and end up slaughtering his entire family hoping for the winds to make it to Troy anyway is really great.

I wish the movie had more action sequences, rather than having scene after scene of characters talking about the emotional stakes of what’s going on.  There’s the constant threat of Odysseus and other Greek soldiers coming to take Iphigenia if Agamemnon ends up refusing to go through with the sacrifice, and there’s the story of Achilles falling for Iphigenia and swearing to fight for her if she asks, but through all that, there is surprisingly little action.  The drama is good, and the characters are great with great performances all around, but I need a bit more variety from my movies, or at least cut a half hour out of the movie’s 2:10 runtime.

This new blu-ray looks beautiful and if you haven’t seen the movie, which originally came out in 1977, then I highly recommend picking this one up.  Even if you’ve seen it, I recommend getting this new blu-ray of it because it looks terrific.

Available now from Olive Films.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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