Sunday, September 07, 2008

A bit more on Medea

Well, I am glad to have finally seen Pasolini's take on Medea. It is certainly a strange and elegiac film. It takes a while to get used to the slow pace but, as with many slow-paced films, it soon takes on a dreamlike quality.

It's also interesting, considering Pasolini's other films, how often they have to do with social outsiders being oppressed by their social superiors. Does the film combine social realism and magical mysticism?

I noted once before that my working-class black students have been generally more receptive to the story of Medea than their working-class white counterparts. While nobody really responds well to Medea's murder of her children, they do recognize her plight- if Medea is insane, which she certainly is by the end, she has gone insane after what was done to her. The white students tend to just recognize that she is insane.

It's tricky to speculate about these things, but it is worth noting that Jason is the ultimate social climber. He brings Medea into a world where she is considered a "barbarian", and will always live with one foot outside the door; and then leaves her for a woman who is higher on the social ladder. The indignity of this is compounded by the fact that she is exiled- the locals have always been suspicious of her, and now she has absolutely nowhere to go. She must leave her children, her lover, and her new home, so that Jason can get in good with the King's daughter.

Holly notes the sense of place in the film. It's interesting how important it is that Medea is a displaced person- and I think Jason is too. I also agree that you need to know the story to watch the film. It probably says more about European cinema of the time that Pasolini assumes that his audience is familiar with the play and mythology.

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