Monday, May 16, 2005


I'm sitting here half-watching NBC's Hercules, and I'm struck by how all the gods have been removed from the story. There's lots of talk about Zeus this and Hera that, but it doesn't look like they're going to be players in the story at all. In fact, it looks like key elements of the story have been changed so that the actions of the gods are now actions by mortals in the story. The rape of Hercules's mother by Zeus was changed to one by a disaffected warrior of his father's, and the insanity that drives him to kill his beloved wife and children looks like it's going to be some drug given to him in a plot concocted by his mother and wife. (It looks like all the women are going to be evil, until he finally falls in love with one later in the movie.)

We saw the same thing earlier this year in Troy, which was equally purged of all religious figures. (It also purged the relationship between Achilles and Patrokles, making them "just good friends.")

The authors of this adaptation are, of course, welcome to their own interpretation of the myths. I can't help but wonder, however, that this cleansing of pagan gods is not so much a reinterpretation and a readaptation for more modern sensibilities, but more intended to sanitize these stories to make them acceptably palatable to the so-called red-staters. By removing any references to a religion they would consider evil and "demon worship" it becomes safe and acceptable. But what does it say of us as a culture if we can't even consider the religions of those that came before us?

Update: Interesting, they didn't shy away from showing two men in bed together. Of course, they were scheming, murderous, and evil, so I'm not sure I'm all happy about that.

Update II: It just ocurred to me that the men in the movie (after the "parental generation" has passed away) are all clean-shaven. That's something that Greek men would never have done. Shaving was something for women and homosexuals, i.e. undesirable.


David said...

Actually, in Troy, Achilles and Patrokles were more than "just good friends." They were cousins. Still not just-plain-lovers as in the original story, but I guess this leaves the door open for them to be "kissing cousins."

And while clean-shaven guys might not be historically correct, there is a practical reason for it. Think how rarely you see actors wearing a beard or moustache in TV and plays. If all male cast members sported beards, we would miss most of their facial expressions, and that's really a hindrance when you're trying to, you know, act.

Narc said...

Frankly, I'd much rather have Brad Pitt and his hunky friend completely unrelated to each other and making out.

You have a valid point about the beards getting in the way of the acting. But it didn't seem to be a problem for Timothy Dalton or William Snow. I chalk it up to the beard being associated with age, and all the other characters were supposed to be of a younger generation. Modern audiences are also more accustomed to cleanshaven men.