When I was a kid, my father used to tell me stories from Greek mythology. He would tell about Zeus, who was always chasing after beautiful girls, about Hera who was the mother Goddess and about Aphrodite being born from the foam of the sea. I was always fascinated, amused but it had nothing to do with me. I bet that is what you think too.
Well over the years I have discovered that there is a lot of value in mythological stories and we often fail to recognize them. Re-reading the myths in the beautiful “Complete world of Greek mythology” brought me back in time. I love to read it, so if you would like to know more about greek mythology, or would like to refresh your memory: Richard Buxton’s book is one of the best. Being a lot older, it was easier to see how mythology writes about the human vices and gives advice.
But mytholgy in the Western culture seems to have taken a backseat. Except in films and television series… Here is a list of 5 films that have a mythological theme. If you know more, I would like to hear from you.
1. The mythology of King Midas
On one of the best known stories of Greek mythology. King Midas of Phrygia is a great and wealthy king with a daughter. Midas loves gold. He loves counting his money.
One day Silenos, teacher of Dionysos, took a nap in the rose garden of King Midas. The King, walking around, saw him, recognized him and invited him to stay for a few days. Then he brought him back to Dionysos. The god of celebration offered Midas to satisfy a wish….
In modern day life we know the story of “Jerry Mcguire”: show me te money. This 1996 film shows how easily one gets stuck on the dollar. The gold in this film does not mortify the loved one like in the myth but the message is clear: work hard for what you love, money will be a nice by-product.
2. The mythology of Narcissus
Echo falls in love with Narcissus, one of the most gorgeous guys on the planet . She lost her voice because she talked too much , and now she can only echo the last thing said to her. Unable to get into a meaningfull conversation because she can only echo the lasts words he speakes, he is not very interested in her affection. Broken hearted she fled into the woods, fading slowly untill nothing was left but her voice.
Narcissus was punished by the Goddess of love Aphrodite, She let him fall in love with someone who would not ever love him back: his own reflection.
In “House of Cards, Francis Underwood is looking out for Francis Underwood. Not only is he very pleased with his own actions, he adores himself. He can not stop looking at his own reflection, projecting his own heartlessness on the people who care about him. He thinks he is so important that it would be unjust to love anybody back. Like he is a god himself, people bow for him and his plans.
3. The mythology of Orpheus and Eurydice
Orpheus lost his wife and loved her so much that he dared to enter the realm of death to search for her. Penelope felt toched by so much love and he was to walk outside and not look back. Once in the human world he was able to look back- and if Eurydice had followed him they where able to live together again.
In “What dreams may come” Chris Nielsen and his wife Annie face the tragic loss of their children. Then Chris looses his life to. He gets comfortable in the afterlife, but one day finds out his wife has commited suicide. Now she is not able to join him in heaven. Chris decides to take action.
4. The Mythology of Apollo and Cassandra
Apollo falls in love with Cassandra, daughter king Priamos of Troy. He gives her the gift of prophecy. But when she rejects the love of Apollo the punishment is that nobody will believe what she says… It will be the downfall of Troy.
In the series “Lie to me” Tim Roth is an expert in seeing detailed expressions, micro expressions that tell the truth. He has a remarkable accuracy in predications but is often not believed. Like Cassandra, he is very unhandy in his love affairs.
5. The mythology of Pan
This Greek God of sensuality, guides girls and boys into connection with their bodies. The god of the shepherds, guiding the animals that give us food and shelter he is depicted with two horns. Later on he got known as the devil.
In the film “Pan’s Labyrinth” a little girl growing up during war time struggles with the changes in her body. Her mother is occupied in a new love affair with the cruel captain Vidal. The mother is pregnant with a child and does not have time to guide her daughter (still a modern day problem). The new husband of the mother is very unbalanced. Finally, his animus-outbursts shake the labyrinth down to its core.
Want to explore Mythological themes in Film yourself? Check out Mindfunda Movies.