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Assignment Skybolt


Oedipus the King: Why it wasn't a success
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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The reason Oedipus wasn't... well, there were two reasons why it wasn't very successful. First of all, being a classical Greek subject, a tragedy like Electra or Iphigenia, there has to be a unity of speech, of accent. And in that film, Christopher had a slight American accent, Lilli Palmer had a slight German accent, Richard Johnson spoke in a very Shakespearean declamatory way, and it jars. It doesn't... it only works if you're not a native English speaker, then it doesn't bother you. But if you're a native English speaker, it tends to... it tends to bother you. The other reason it wasn't successful was very unfortunate. In the very same year Pasolini should make his Oedipus, which is a much better movie. But anyway, that's... that's luck of the game, isn't it? Luck of the draw. And then... that was my last film in Greece because as soon as the film was finished, I left. And I didn't go back to Greece during the reign of the colonels, which lasted seven years.

Born in Germany, cinematographer Walter Lassally (1926-2017) was best known for his Oscar-winning work on 'Zorba the Greek'. He was greatly respected in the film industry for his ability to take the best of his work in one area and apply it to another, from mainstream to international art films to documentary. He was associated with the Free Cinema movement in the 1950s, and the British New Wave in the early 1960s. In 1987 he published his autobiography called 'Itinerant Cameraman'.

Listeners: Peter Bowen

Peter Bowen is a Canadian who came to Europe to study and never got round to heading back home. He did his undergraduate work at Carleton University (in Biology) in Ottawa, and then did graduate work at the University of Western Ontario (in Zoology). After completing his doctorate at Oxford (in the Department of Zoology), followed with a year of postdoc at the University of London, he moved to the University's newly-established Audio-Visual Centre (under the direction of Michael Clarke) where he spent four years in production (of primarily science programs) and began to teach film. In 1974 Bowden became Director of the new Audio-Visual Centre at the University of Warwick, which was then in the process of introducing film studies into the curriculum and where his interest in the academic study of film was promoted and encouraged by scholars such as Victor Perkins, Robin Wood, and Richard Dyer. In 1983, his partner and he moved to Greece, and the following year he began to teach for the University of Maryland (European Division), for which he has taught (and continues to teach) biology and film courses in Crete, Bosnia, and the Middle East.

Tags: Electra, Iphigenia, Greece, Oedipus the King, Christopher Plummer, Lilli Palmer, Richard Johnson

Duration: 1 minute, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008