I choose the written version of Oedipus the King translated by Francis Storr who was the editor of the Journal of Education in London Storr wrote articles for the Dictionary of National Biography and for the 1911 British Encyclopedia. The translation of the original play written by Sophocles, was published for the first time in 1912 and the second time 1919.
To compare and contrast with this version, I choose the movie version of Oedipus the King released in 1967, the name of the film is Oedipus the King and was directed by Phillip Saville, the language in the film is English, and was the first theatrical effort of this director. The script was written by Saville and Michael Luke. According to Storr (1912) The argument of this play is about the king of Thebas, Laius, an oracle foretold that the child born to him by his queen Jocasta would slay his father and wed his mother. So when in time a son was born the infant’s feet were riveted together and he was left to die on Mount Cithaeron. But a shepherd found the babe and tended him and delivered him to another shepherd who took him to his master, the King of Corinth. Polybus being childless adopted the boy, who grew up believing that he was indeed the King’s son. Afterwards doubting his parentage he inquired of the Delphic god and heard himself the word declared before to Laius.
Wherefore he fled from what he deemed his father’s house and, in his flight, he encountered and unwillingly slew his father Laius. Arriving at Thebes he answered the riddle of the Sphinx and the grateful Thebans made their deliverer king. So he reigned in the room of Laius, and espoused the widowed queen. Children were born to them and Thebes prospered under his rule, but again a grievous plague fell upon the city. Again, the oracle was consulted and it bade them purge themselves of blood-guiltiness. Oedipus denounces the crime of which he is unaware, and undertakes to track out the criminal. Step by step it is brought home to him that he is the man. The closing scene reveals Jocasta slain by her own hand and Oedipus blinded by his own act and praying for death or exile.
Plot For this Greek tragedy, the written version translated by Storr shows a written argument that has been used in this essay, which explains the plot since the beginning when Oedipus was born and how the fact of not leaving with his biological parents and him not being aware of that causes the tragedy. Conversely, the film version by Seville doesn’t explain these facts since the beginning and gives some clues along the movie which generates more drama and suspense.
Characters and character portrayals The written version translated by Storr define the characters to be played by actors, the characteristics of the characters are basically given by the reader. In the film version by Seville, there are professional actors actually playing the roles, the role of Oedipus played by Christopher Plummer in the film where the director seems to try to add more drama by giving the role to Plummer.
Setting Since the written version translated by Storr contains the original effort of the author (Sophocles) and describes the setting necessary to tell the story and make it adaptable to play in theaters. In the other side the film version by Seville had the opportunity to show the set, although I think the movie could be filmed in better locations to match with the expectations created after reading the written play.
Theme Even though both versions are not translated exactly the same, both reflected the same themes, royalty, wisdom, love, tragedy, goodness. I think the movie version has more suspense because the way the presented the story. In the film version by Seville, the actors followed the script that was adapted for a movie version considering the type of audience is different when the play is presented in a movie, using the text in the written version by Storr in the film version could have make really hard for the audience to understand the movie. Also, another factor to consider is that there are several translations for this play. I think the movie followed the expectations for Greek drama, the lack of especial effects was another important factor (I’m not sure if this happened because of the lack of technology back then, lack of budget, or because Seville wants to keep it natural). I think the customs were not appropriated for that time period.
After I enjoyed both versions of the play, I prefer the written play over the film version. I really think that the film could be better and although I like the fact that the film doesn’t have especial effects, I think they could have used better locations and better customs in the film. I like the written version better because I this it gives me the opportunity to imagine the locations and the characters in a different way, I think is more dramatic and the language use is more according to the time period. I definitely would like to see this play in a theater and see how other actors play the roles, but for now, I prefer the written version translated by Storr.
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