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BISR Guilt Group and BISR presents: Medea (von Trier, 1988)

Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square


Lars von Trier, Denmark, 1988, 76 minutes Birkbeck Cinema


Euripides' Medea (431 BCE) still shocks. Medea has helped Jason to steal the Golden Fleece and borne his children. Unlike Euripides, Lars von Trier shows us Jason casting off Medea to marry the daughter of King Creon of Corinth. However, both the film and the play concentrate on Medea's revenge. Her decision to kill her children to make Jason suffer is calculated. Yet Medea is not punished, but carried away from Corinth to safety. Von Trier's 1988 television film uses a script written (but never filmed) by Carl Th. Dreyer. Like Brook's Lear, it is largely shot in Jutland. Colours have been bleached or shifted. The effect is primeval, anti-realist and elemental. Yet Medea is also a modern figure: Gilbert Murray's translation was performed in 1907 alongside new drama by Shaw and others in one of the seasons with which Harley Granville Barker remade British theatre. She was an icon to the suffragettes. In its strangeness and symbolism, the film arguably renders Medea both remote and eerily present.

This screening has been organised in collaboration with Birkbeck Gender and Sexuality (BiGS) and the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research (BISR)

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Contact phone: 020 7631 6115