|Headwear by www.NemeanLion.com|
The New Paramount/ MGM Hercules is given only a 12A rating with good reason. Hercules is a trained killer. But not one, as the ancients held, so disturbed by his isolated ordeals of violent combat that he became incapable of civilian life and killed his wife and children.
Far from it. Sophistication in public storytelling has moved steadily backwards. This 21st-century Hercules instead has his family destroyed by A Bad Guy.
|Heracles slaughters wife and sons|
In the fifth century BC, the citizen audience could digest the advanced ethical philosophy of a scene in which the bereaved father and husband is physically restrained, by two men who love him, from suicide, discusses whether lack of intent affects culpability, and agrees to accept help in a survival plan despite what he has done. In 2014, however, Hercules gets to slay the gratuitously camp Bad Guy before flexing his depilated pectorals at good-looking individuals of both sexes.
|Beware Greeks Bearing Screenplays?|
It is not that I am a killjoy. I like mass market entertainment and outrageous adaptations of classics. I quite enjoyed the film, especially Ian McShane’s louche and mordant prophet Amphiaraus. But there is something about Hercules/Heracles, the archetypal Hero who allowed the ancients to think through their contradictory ideas about masculinity, violence, friendship, fatherhood, social alienation and psychopathology, that makes him resemble many disturbed ex-servicemen and deserve so much more than comic-strip ethical reductivism.
|Would you trust this prophet? McShane Nearly Saves the Movie|