I´ve just recently saw Pasolini´s film (1969) based on Euripides´ Medea (431 BC), in which Maria Callas remarkably performs the leading role.
Pasolini takes some liberties regarding Euripides´plot – which was itself based on an already popular myth at the time -, showing for instance two different versions within the film for the death of the corynthian princess who is about to become Jason´s wife.
Specially interesting, is the tribal african music the director uses, introducing a dionysiac effect in relation to certain actions on the verge of madness and loss of control, leaving a lasting impression on the viewer. In a very poetical and at the same time realistic way, Pasolini introduces documentary images within the classical narrative, such as children eating water melons or old aged faces.
S. made me notice that Medea is not merely the story of a woman who incomprehensively kills her children to take reveange on her husband for leaving her and the family to marry another woman. Many complex aspects come together and the story could be said to be about many different things.
I was specially interested in my friend´s point that Medea is a woman who apparently has no choice but to accept the given conditions and collaborate. She seems domed to accept her role as a disillusioned and abandoned wife, condemned to live in exile in a foreign land and culture, to which she is nothing but a barbarian. And there she stands, without any choice, powerless, after having cut with her former life as a priestess, abandoned her father´s house, her land, killed her brother in the most horrific way – and all for the sake of escaping with Jason and love him. And not only has he deserted her but she cannot go back, nor stay, nor undo her life´s choices. She finds herself at the loneliest of places, a non-place in fact.
And so, Medea finds the most unbelievable solution to break out of the desolate situation she has been condemn to – to kill her own children thus irreparably hurt their father and furthermore deprive him of his children´s dead bodies. She completely turns the game around, from a helpless victim to an aggressor in possession of total control. It could be said she is the selfishest of creatures but it could also be said that she is too human and fighting for survival on its most raw dimension…