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Herculese Unchained
     

Herculese Unchained

Director: Pietro Francisci

Cast: Steve Reeves, Sylvia Lopez, Sylva Koscina

 

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Steve Reeves' second (and last) film portrayal of Hercules is, in certain ways, better than his first. The plot this time is drawn from the legends surrounding the royal house of Thebes, which are most familiar to audiences through the Theban plays of Sophocles. The movie opens with Hercules, his new bride Iole ({Sylva Koscina), and the young Ulysses (Gabriel Antonini

Overview

Steve Reeves' second (and last) film portrayal of Hercules is, in certain ways, better than his first. The plot this time is drawn from the legends surrounding the royal house of Thebes, which are most familiar to audiences through the Theban plays of Sophocles. The movie opens with Hercules, his new bride Iole ({Sylva Koscina), and the young Ulysses (Gabriel Antonini) travelling to Thebes following the end of the quest for the Golden Fleece (depicted in the previous movie, Hercules). Their journey is interrupted when Hercules must do battle with the giant Anteus (Primo Carnera), whose strength seems to exceed his own until he realizes that Anteus is the son of the earth goddess and can't be defeated on land. On their arrival in Thebes, the trio discovers that the kingdom is in the midst of civil war -- Oedipus ({Cesare Fantoni), the old king, is dying, and his two sons, Polynices and Eteocles, are contending for the throne and threatening to destroy each other and the populace. Hercules must leave Iole in the hands of one side in order to try and settle the dispute between the two would-be kings. While en route between the two armed camps, however, he is put under the spell of Omphale (Sylvia Lopez), the Queen of Lydia, who casts out his memory and takes him as a lover, with Ulysses in tow pretending to be his deaf-mute servant. Ulysses must figure out how to keep himself alive, restore Hercules' memory, get them both out of Omphale's grasp before she tires of Hercules and has him killed (as she has her previous lovers), and get them both back to Thebes before the kingdom is burned to the ground. His solution arrives in the form of his father, Laertes, and Hercules' companions from his voyage for the Golden Fleece. They all escape Omphale's clutches and arrive at Thebes as war has broken out between the two brothers and their armies. In a spectacular denouement, Hercules brings his chariot into the middle of the pitched battle, knocking down assault towers and sweeping cavalry before him to halt the battle. Peace is finally restored on a bittersweet note as the two brothers, Polynices and Eteocles, slay each other.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Hercules Unchained wasn't greeted with much more respect by the critics than was Steve Reeves' previous film, Hercules. In point of fact, both movies were better than reviewers acknowledged at the time -- a fact borne out by their spectacular success at the box office -- and had the effect of establishing a new film genre, the sword-and-sandal epic. It the wake of both movies, producers and directors in Italy began recruiting professional bodybuilders and commissioning scripts that put them into loincloths, battling hundreds (or, in more impoverished circumstances, dozens) of extras dressed as soldiers in some corner of the ancient world. The fact is, though, that few of the movies that followed could match the qualities that made Hercules Unchained so beguiling. Steve Reeves never cut a more commanding presence, and his only better film may have been The Trojan Horse, in which he had to do more acting and fewer feats of strength. The plot drew from the legends surrounding the royal house of Thebes, which are most familiar to modern audiences through the Theban plays of Sophocles. That story line, involving Oedipus the King of Thebes and his two sons, Polynices and Eteocles, opened up opportunities onscreen of which director Pietro Francisci and cinematographer Mario Bava took full advantage -- the scene in which Hercules meets Oedipus at the gates of Hades is a stunner (rumor had it for decades that Bava directed this scene himself), and the eventual battle between the two armies, with Hercules attacking both to stop the fighting and save the kingdom, is a spectacular action scene. Additionally, Sylvia Lopez's portrayal of the Lydian queen Omphale is memorable for its sensuality and passion -- alas, this proved to be her last role; Lopez died later that same year of leukemia. The film as a whole is filled with just enough of the strange, disconnected, episodic nature of the Greek myths, and a good measure of their brutality, so that it served as an introduction for millions of baby-boomer children to the original source material, fostering an interest in mythology that quickly manifested itself in popular culture not only in dozens of rival sword-and-sandal films but in creations such as Stan Lee's Mighty Thor comic book and The Mighty Hercules cartoon show.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/18/2012
UPC:
0661799538480
Original Release:
1959
Source:
Desert Island Films
Time:
1:41:00
Sales rank:
50,938

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Steve Reeves Hercules
Sylvia Lopez Omphale, Queen of Lydia
Sylva Koscina Jole
Gabriele Antonini Ulysses
Primo Carnera Antaeus
Carlo D'Angelo Creon
Andrea Fantasia Laertes
Sergio Fantoni Eteocles
Mimmo Palmara Polynices
Patrizia Della Rovere Actor
Cesare Fantoni Oedipus
Fabrizio Mioni Actor
Ivo Garrani Actor
Arturo Dominici Actor
Lydia Alfonsi Actor
Luciana Paluzzi Actor
Lily Granado Actor
Gianna Maria Canale Actor
Afro Polli Actor
Aldo Fiorelli Actor
Gino Mattera Actor
Gian Paolo Rosmino Actor
Willi Colombini Actor
Fulvio Carrara Actor
Aldo Pini Actor
Spartaco Nale Actor

Technical Credits
Pietro Francisci Director,Screenwriter
Mario Bava Cinematographer
Ennio de Concini Screenwriter
Gaoi Frattini Screenwriter
Enzo Masetti Score Composer
Parrish Mitchell Songwriter
Apollonious Rhodios Screenwriter
Mario Serandrei Editor
Bruno Vailati Producer

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