Oedipus Rex Film Paper

Essay by freechongCollege, Undergraduate March 2007

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Pasolini's film adaptation of Oedipus Rex stays mostly faithful to Sophocles's source material. While Pasolini takes some liberties with the structure and chronology of the play, the plot is mostly the same and many of the themes of Sophocles's play from over 2000 years ago are present in the film.

The main difference between the two pieces of work is reflective in their medium. Though Sophocles's tragedy was told through a visual medium, today as we read it is mostly a literal medium with dialogue being of the utmost importance. And though things other than dialogue were important in performing a play in Ancient Greece-many non-verbal aspects of the performance (such as set design) were far more primitive than in the time of Pasolini.

Indeed, there is far less dialogue in the film version of Oedipus Rex. Pasolini relies more on scenery, music and facial expressions to tell his story.

The dialogue that is used however, is mostly lifted from Sophocles's in Oedipus the King, in particular the words of the blind prophet of Teiresias are almost copied verbatim from Sophocles to the silver screen. Again howeverr, most of the time Pasolini did not rely on dialogue to tell his story, and this is most evident in Oedipus's slaying of his father, King Laius. The murder scene is very long, and most of what we hear from Oedipus is limited to tribal screams. Pasolini paints Oedipus as psychotic in the scene, which is somewhat different from the picture Sophocles gives us of Oedipus at the murder scene, in which Oedipus's short fuse causes the murders to happen almost by accident.

Irony was a constant theme in Sophocles's play, and it again is ever-present in Pasolini's adaptation. For example, when Oedipus learns that a cruse...