The Bacchantes (1961)

(a.k.a. LE BACCANTI)
Article #1495 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-18-2005
Posting Date: 9-15-2005
Directed by Giorgio Ferroni
Featuring Taina Elg, Pierre Brice, Alessandro Panaro

A Theban tyrant banishes the worship of Dionysius in favor of that of Demeter, but the resulting drought drives his subjects into rebellion.

This story of the ancient Greeks is a French/Italian co-production made in the early sixties. If this description doesn’t conjure up the phrase “sword-and-sandal”, then nothing does. However, the phrase doesn’t quite fit here; despite the presence of many of the usual trappings of the form, this is less of an action-adventure spectacle than a drama. It even credits Euripedes with the source of the story, though anyone familiar with the Greek tragedy in question will find little familiar here. Still, I can’t blame them; ancient Greek tragedy is something of an alien form anymore, and for what it’s worth, this movie comes up with an interesting enough story that is worth following. In fact, I think it’s a decent fantasy-drama overall, though it does have some problems; in particular, the dancing and partying scenes of the Dionysians are pretty silly. I only wish I had snagged a color copy of the movie, but no such luck. Akim Tamiroff is almost unrecognizable as the blind prophet Teiresias.


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