Le retour d’Ulysse (1909)

LE RETOUR D’ULYSSE (1909)
aka The Return of Ulysses
Article 5145 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 5-2-2016
Directed by Andre Calmettes and Charles Le Bargy
Featuring Paul Mounet, Madame Bartet, Albert Lambert
Country: France
What it is: Homeric adaptation

Ulysses returns after a twenty-year delay from the Trojan War to deal with suitors to the queen Penelope.

Anyone familiar with Homer’s “The Odyssey” knows the story is full of fantastic content, with the most famous part of the story involving Ulysses’s encounter with the cyclops Polyphemus. However, the main thrust of the story involves the hero’s return home to deal with a group of abusive suitors who are trying to force the wife of Ulysses to pick a king, and this segment of the story is much lighter on the fantastic content, and it would be possible to adapt it without any fantastic content whatsoever, especially if you eliminate the roles of the gods and goddesses. This bare-bones version of that part of the story does have a little fantastic content; Penelope has a precognitive dream of Ulysses that makes it appear as if he disappears into thin air at one point, and references are made to the goddesses Calypso and Minerva in the title cards (the latter supposedly stopping time) but not appearing as characters in any capacity. The short mostly deals with the more famous aspects of that part of the story – the tapestry ruse and the bow-bending competition. As such, it’s a passable if uninspired adaptation of that part of the epic, though the actress playing Penelope really chews the scenery. Still, there are other versions of the story preferable to those seeking the fantastic content.

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