Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Assignment for Tuesday, 10-18-16

Dear Mythologists,

For Tuesday, October 18, please do the following:

(1) Watch the nostalgia-inducing (Disney's) Hercules (John Musker and Ron Clements, 1997), taking notes as you see fit. In addition to the DVD being reserved at the library, the film is also streaming on Amazon.

(2) Read Chris Pallant's essay, "Developments in Peplum Filmmaking: Disney's Hercules," another entry from the terrific Of Muscles and Men volume. Pallant will help us connect the dots between Harryhausen, first-wave peplum films, and the Disney version.

(3) Remember by noon on Tuesday to comment on this post with your choice of a sequence from Hercules to view in class.



  1. I'd like to watch the opening scene in Olympus, (00:03:00-00:06:29) which introduces us to the Gods and establishes our hero and our villain. There's plenty of good material to discuss here, from the various interpretations of Gods, such as a joyous, boisterous, Zeus who is almost Santa Claus and a young, skinny, and happy Hera, or the creation of Pegasus.

    Additionally, I found the animation and background design to be some of the most beautiful and impressive in the whole film. The clouds of Olympus, which are reminiscent of popular depictions of the Christian Heaven, are particularly striking. I want to say they were done digitally, but I can't be certain. Regardless they do a great job of giving the setting an other worldly and majestic atmosphere.

  2. I would like to watch the scene of a younger Hercules wanting to play frisbee with the other boys. Usually Hercules is portrayed having complete control if his strength but in the Disney version he knocks over a column just by falling onto it. The Disney portrayal of Hercules shows that his strength comes effortlessly. Hercules also demonstrates that he has brains not just muscle by being able to know odd and even numbers.

  3. I would like to watch Hercules's music number where he seeks to find out who he is (18:10-20:40). I want to look at this scene because it is notable how the film portrays Hercules as both strong (he's traveling a great distance) but also sensitive and hopeful (he wants to know where he belongs). this is a new idea in Hercules films as we have mostly only see him punch his way through his problems but this film starts out with a problem he can't punch through.

    1. I would also like to watch this scene. In earlier Hercules films, we don't see much of a training period. Hercules comes into the story already super skilled. "Go the Distance" describes how Hercules is unafraid of the sacrifices it will take for him to fulfill his potential. Steve Reeves' Hercules also believed in hard work, but everything still came easy to him. This Hercules embodies the all-American theme of building oneself from nothing into something using hope, determination, and hard work. This is also a very young Hercules (the oldest he gets in the film is 19) which fits with America's youthful optimism.

  4. I would like to watch the prophecy scene (~00:10:00). I think this scene does a fantastic job in showing something that was traditionally told orally rather than through visuals. It sort of represented the quintessential idea of movies as a medium for myth. Also, I thought the simplified animation in the prophecy was really beautiful and excited the reader for the future of Hercules. Lastly, I thought it was great that the writers made the Fates speak in verse when telling the prophecy because it seemed more authentic and traditional.

    ~Sophie Heath

  5. I would like to see Hercules’ trip to the underworld (1:19:09- 1:23:31). The scene answers very effectively the question of what constitutes a hero and how someone can get there- a question that continually tortures Hercules. It is a crucial moment because it validates Hercules as a heroic figure, while revealing that his quality as such is a product of for this mortal and immortal nature. What makes him weak, turns him powerful and this is why he deserve to be among the gods.


  6. All of Go the Distance because it is fantastic and i love it. Also because it really sets the tone for this modern, kid friendly hercules

  7. I would love to look at Hero to Zero. I think it's a fun look at Disneyfication, as well as the idea of how huge a panhellenic hero would really be. It also touches on several of his labors, and has several of the most Peplum-y moments of the entire film Finally, it's one of the strangest parts of the film in terms of understanding the world of this movie.

  8. I'd like to watch the scene where Hercules meets Zeus for the first time, at about 17:20. This movie portrays Zeus in such a different way than we've seen before. This movie completely changes the relationship between Zeus and Hercules, and Zeus is very caring and supportive of Hercules.

  9. I'd like to look at the sequence from around 1:02:20 to 1:04:00 where Hercules is fighting the Cyclops and then Meg gets injured by the column. In this segment, I thought it was particularly interesting how Hercules had to rely on his cunning and strategic skills rather than his strength and still manages to beat the Cyclops (although he is being beaten to a pulp before that). We have seen some versions of Hercules that show him as intelligent, but never wholly unable to use his strength before now. I also thought it was interesting how the Disney movie molded the character of Meg. She begins in the narrative as the vampy seductress of peplum films, and then turns into the "good" female character because of her love for Hercules - which I thought was a deviation from peplum while still giving a substantial nod to the existing tradition of Hercules films.

  10. I would like to watch the scene when Hercules dives into a sea of ghosts to save Meg because 1) the animation is beautiful and 2) it's a great example of how Disney alters existing stories to create a version that is more suitable for the intended audience (something that myths tend to do anyway). This scene's theme, self sacrifice, is a continuation of the scene in which Meg pushes Hercules out of the way. It presents Hercules as a noble figure, and Meg as a redeemable character, when they emerge from the abyss against all odds. As the audience, we also sense that something has changed in Hercules when he steps up with Meg's ghost in his arms - he seems a bit more wise or mature with his stern expression and no-nonsense attitude.