The Odyssey is one of the most beloved stories in Western literature, and many movies have borrowed from its plot. Notably, the Coen Brothers’ O Brother Where Art Thou? loosely retells Odysseus’ story against the backdrop of the Great Depression. However, only two adaptations tell the original story of the poem in its original setting:
Director: Mario Camerini
Notable cast: Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn
Camerini’s movie makes several cuts from The Odyssey’s story, and adds some material to Penelope’s plot, but is otherwise faithful to the poem. The film, with Kirk Douglas as a virile Odysseus and Anthony Quinn as Telemachus, was extremely popular with cinema audiences.
Director: Andrei Konchalovsky
Notable cast: Armand Assante, Christopher Lee
Konchalovsky’s miniseries begins with Odysseus’s departure from Ithaca and tells the story of The Iliad before it launches into the action of The Odyssey. The poem’s events are told in chronological order, so that the encounter with the Cyclops is one of the movie’s first events, and Telemachus’s journey to Pylos and Sparta one of the last. When the miniseries was first broadcast (on NBC), critics praised its fun spirit and authentic Mediterranean locations.