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Thoughts on Giōrgos (George) Lazopoulos’s Medousa

June 8, 2018

Frossō Litra as Christina

This review should also be appearing on the Internet Movie Database, marked as having spoilers.

This film has a really slow pace, and since the audience knows that it’s a retelling of the Medousa myth, all the police procedural scens can be tedious, since there isn’t a whole lot of wit and humor beyond the fact that Christina seems to be the smartest of the police detectives. It leads one to wonder if she’ll be the one who sets things aright.

Such hopes are dashed by the end of the film and we realize what is happening. I had never wondered what happened to women who saw the face of Medousa, which is a big concern in this film. I remember the original story had Perseus turn King Polydectes and an entire crowd to stone with the severed head of Medousa. Given ancient Greek culture, the crowd potetnially could have been all men, but that would not have crossed my mind as a kid. I didn’t know then about the punishment for women who were caught watching the Olympics, for example. In some versions, the mirror even turned her head to stone. In this film, Medousa is not a monstrous person or full-on monster, but a curse that affects only women. If Medousa is seen by another woman, Medousa disintegrates and the curse is passed on to the next woman, making all women in the diegesis effectively monsters and men their hapless victims. Christine is the final Medousa in the film, although it’s only implied (and I’m spelling out something conveyed a bit obliquely in the film).

Still there are huge plot holes, particularly in regard to the film’s rules. If ten years have passed since Meda was distintegrated, why are the police only now discovering stone men? Does the Medousa curse take hold of a woman slowly, giving Perseas’s mother enough will to drive off without harming him? Meda put the stone bodies in the villa’s basement, but the current Medousa, who may or may not be Perseas’s mother, leaves them to be found easily. It’s implied by some dialogue near the beginning that Perseas will ultimately kill his mother, but we are never shown definitively that his mother is the Medousa he kills. Katia looks at her body, but all the audience sees is the disintegration of the body. Perseas kills her without looking, realizing the curse has passed onto her. The thing is, Katia was completely nude, and immediately goes up to put on Medousa’s robe, wig, and mask, which the Mother clearly didn’t do. It’s possible this is because she was made aware of them earlier in the film. Perseas seems to want to spare her from intentionally killing anyone, but when the cops dig her up, she turns the men to stone and disintegrates, passing the curse onto Christina. Christina isn’t shown going for the robe, though.

The film doesn’t have a lot of nudity (only Katia in the aforementioned scene) or violence (some blood when Katia is killed), and the Lazopoulos seems to be thinking more of art film than exploitation, perhaps middlebrow in his approach. It’s more disturbing and creepy to the mind than it is to the eye, in particular the disintegrations–the mind makes it more gruesome than what ois actually shown.

I’ll be interested in seeing the interview with the director. Since he plays the guy Perseas tries to sell knives, I imagine knife throwing is a personal touch on the story.

The film is atmospheric, well acted, and shot, and the women are beautiful, but the pacing and misogyny knock several stars off it for me.

One Comment
  1. In the interview, Lazopoulos discusses that he went on to direct commercials after he made the film, and would definitely have tightened the pacing based on his experiences in the film. He mentions having had a bad relationship with his mother, but does not detail it, but he does specify that Perseas does indeed kill his mother, which doesn’t explain why ten years pass before any police get wind of people being turned to stone. Mostly he discusses his education in London and how he found the locations he wanted in the village of his birth, the last place he would look.

    Last night I saw Terence Fisher’s The Gorgon (1964), and the similarities are astonishing. In that film, a woman is posessed by Megaera (in mythology a Fury, not a Gorgon), and there her soul is saved when she is decapitated at the very end of the film. The curse doesn’t pass from woman to woman, and reincarnation is mentioned several times. It does involve police investigation (although the film’s 1908 setting makes it look quite different), but doctors and professors are actually involved in the case.

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