Thursday, September 29, 2016

Assignment for Thursday, 10-06-16

Dear Mythologists,

For Thursday, October 6, please do the following:

(1) PEPLUM DOUBLE FEATURE! Watch Hercules Unchained (Pietro Francisci, 1959), the sequel to Hercules (1958); and Hercules against the Moon Men (1964). Take notes as you see fit. In addition to being reserved at the library (both are on disk 5 of the Sci-Fi Classics series), the films are also streaming on Amazon. As you watch, you might consider how the films uphold and/or subvert the conventions of the Hercules peplum genre as we have begun to define it.

(2) Read "Hercules, Politics, and Movies" by Maria Elena D'Amelio. Her essay — which appears in Of Muscles and Men (ed. M. Cornelius), a volume devoted to peplum — discusses how the late-50s and early-60s Hercules movies played in both Italy and the U.S.

(3) Remember by noon on Thursday to comment on this post with your choice of sequences from BOTH FILMS to view in class.



  1. For "Hercules Against the Moonmen" I would like to look again at the sequence between 1:25:05 and 1:26:12 because of the integration of Egyptian mythology into the story. Although the film doesn't go into it, the statue appears to be an Egyptian goddess of fertility. Without much explanation, the collapse of the goddess leads to the immediate destruction of the mountain, and the death of Selene, effectively ending the movie in a single act.

  2. 1. 54:20-56:09 I want to look at this scene from hercules unchained because it shows a representation of toxic femininity through hercules' foes. It depicts women as total evil and the enemies of masculinity which i think very interesting
    2. 1:23:00-1:26:00 I want to look at the scene in "Hercules against the Moonmen" where Hercules fights the moonmen at the end. I want to look at this scene because it displays the big action and masculine figure that was such a huge draw for audiences of the time.

  3. for unchained 1:05:27-1:06:38 is a really fun fight scene that i think really showcases Hercules' defining trait: his super strength.

  4. Hercules Against the Moonmen:
    I'd like to watch the sequence when Hercules is talking to Claudius, unaware that Samara is eavesdropping (00:13:29-00:15:37). I think the filmmakers were very smart to use mostly medium close-up shots to mimic the more intimate conversation between the two. The audience is surprised roughly the same time as Agar, and only then do we understand that the men were not as secure as they'd thought.

    Hercules Unchained:
    I'd like to look at the sequence that introduces Oedipus to the audience (approx. 00:18:00-00:21:00). With my very limited knowledge of the old testament, he seemed to be a very Moses-like figure: an older man with a long beard, heavy robes, and a staff. Furthermore, the camera-angle makes him appear as if he is standing over us and therefore someone to be respected and admired. I also think this scene is important because it's the first time we "see" a god in the Hercules unit. More of an audible experience, this god, unnamed, creates a more biblical tone with the 'gates opening for' Oedipus. When Oedipus started walking towards something offscreen that glows, it rounded out the Moses metaphor for me because it made me think of the burning bush.

  5. For Hercules Unchained, I would like to watch the scene of Hercules fighting Antaeus. At first, Hercules is uncharacteristically indifferent and lethargic towards Antaeus' challenge. Even when Iole gets involved he is still slow to act. Although he is the hero of the story, he is still human.
    For Hercules Against the Moonmen, I would like to watch the scene of the Moonman's first appearance in Samara's room. Although they are working together, Samara is clearly intimidated when she first senses that the Moonman is arriving.

  6. For Hercules Unchained, I would also like to see the entrance of Oedipus (for time see Sarah). However, though I agree with everything Sarah says, I wanted to look at this scene for the lighting technique. Rather than presenting Oedipus with gory eye sockets, the editor of the film made it so that Oedipus' eyes were always in shadow, thus creating the illusion of blindness. Also, the audience is able to understand his blindness in the way he acts and talks - he recognizes Hercules by his voice. I thought this was a pretty smart way of representing the myth while still making it appropriate for all viewers.

    ~Sophie Heath

  7. In Hercules Unchained, I would like to watch from the beginning until 2:13. In Hercules Against the Moon Men, I'd like to watch from 7:50 to 9:25. Both of these scenes introduce a female villain (Omphale and Samara). I've noticed a growth in the importance and selfishness of female villains from 1958 to 1964. The Amazons of 1958 were very reluctant murderers. But Omphale is practically a succubus, trapping men in her cave and killing them whenever a new one comes along. Omphale's desperation for companionship is more endearing than Samara's thirst for power, though. Is the evil feminine meant to be a counter to the protagonist's righteous masculine?

  8. In Hercules Unchained, I would also like to look at the Antaeus sequence. In Hercules Against the Moon Men, I'd like to look at a roughly parallel scene, when Claudius and Hercules get caught in booby traps (16:25-22:15). In both these scenes, the pacing is a bit strange, but they remind us that Hercules, trapped or indifferent, is still imperfect. Both scenes also allow a display of Hercules' strength, primarily through wrestling.

  9. For Hercules Unchained I would like to look at the very beginning of the film, where we see a sort of trade in of lovers. Firstly, this reminds me VERY much of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, and I think this has something to say about making an engaging sequel. And I also think this scene sets up tension for the film in some ways, but is also not clear enough story telling to really accomplish it’s job. And the depiction of violence is very of it’s time in film history.
    For the Moon Men, I want to look at the spiky death trap scene about 55 minutes in. I think this is pretty much the height of that Peplum Beef Cake stuff we have talked about in class. It’s so dramatic, and vaguely sexual, but also an intense scene. I don’t think this scene is anything surprising for the genera, I just think it really captures what this genera is about.

  10. Hercules Unchained: (00:28:33-00:32:09) I wish to see the scene where Ulysses pretends to be a mute. In my opinion, it is one of the cleverest scenes of the movie. This scene is interesting because Ulysses takes on the role of the protagonist and Hercules is turned into a kind of anti-hero, since not only he is unable to protect himself and his comrade, but he also loses his strength and becomes a commoner. The powerful Hercules needs Ulysses help to escape death and his behavior reminds us nothing of his heroic glory.

    Hercules against the Moon-Mean: (00:19:47- 00:21:30). I would like to watch the scene of the fight between Hercules and the Minotaur. It is very interesting to see how directors (Francisci, Gentilomo, Liebesman) perceive the idea of the Minotaur in a completely different matter (both in terms of cinematic setting and physical appearance).


  11. For "Hercules Unchained" I'd like to look at the sequence between about 41:10 and 42:35 for the direct contrast between the two women. Onfale and Iole are direct opposites, both in appearance and in their motivations. The shots transferring between the two women highlight those oppositions and throw direct contrast between the beautiful and loving Iole and the evil and corrupting Onfale.

  12. For Hercules Against the Moonmen, I would also like to visit the scene that Mary mentioned, though not only because of its possible relation to Egyptian theology, but because it continues on a theme of destruction that we see throughout the Hercules peplum films, more specifically, how the destruction of a possibly hierophantic symbol (the temple in Fatiche di Ercole, and the statue in Moonmen), becomes more and more important symbolically in the films. Is it possible that this is making a statement about paganism? It is important to recall the fact that in the 1950s and 1960s America was caught up in a wave of nationalist, anti-communist, xenophobic sentiment, and both American filmmakers, as well as filmmakers hoping to market to Americans, would be aware of this.

  13. For Hercules Against the Moonmen, I'd like to look at the beginning of the movie, from the opening credits through the narration. These parts really remind me of an old horror or sci-fi movie, and not of a Classics-based story. I think it's interesting how the makers of the movie combined the setting of ancient Greece and the peplum style with these different movie genres.