Saturday, April 30, 2016

'Oldboy', the Greek Tragedy: Adaptation & the Tragic Form

Released in 2003, the South Korean film Oldboy created a sensation with its over-the-top violence and themes of revenge.

In this video essay, Lewis Criswell shows that one of the reasons Oldboy is so effective is that it an adaptation of the Ancient Greek tragic form, specifically that of Oedipus Rex.

Adaptation is never easy, whether what's being adapted is a short story, novel, or any other piece. Film, as a primarily visual form of storytelling, has its own unique requirements. When adapting from a theatrical form, and specifically one as specific and foreign to modern sensibilities as the theatrical spectacle of Greek tragedy, the adaptation can't rely on mimicry; rather, it has to find elements that translate to film and make them work. In Oedipus Rex, a king learns that a plague in his city has been caused by him through actions in the distant past, which unwittingly led him to fulfill a prophecy of murdering his father and sleeping with his mother.

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from Mad Mohawk Films

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