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Ancient Greek Women in Film$
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Konstantinos P. Nikoloutsos

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199678921

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199678921.001.0001

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Gazing at Helen: Helen as Polysemous Icon in Robert Wise’s Helen of Troy and Michael Cacoyannis’ The Trojan Women

Gazing at Helen: Helen as Polysemous Icon in Robert Wise’s Helen of Troy and Michael Cacoyannis’ The Trojan Women

Chapter:
(p.19) 1 Gazing at Helen: Helen as Polysemous Icon in Robert Wise’s Helen of Troy and Michael Cacoyannis’ The Trojan Women
Source:
Ancient Greek Women in Film
Author(s):

Bella Vivante

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199678921.003.0002

This chapter examines how depictions of the ancient Greek Helen of Troy in Robert Wise's film Helen of Troy (1956) and Michael Cacoyannis' Trojan Women (1971) cinematically display three concepts of the gaze: Helen as desired object of the male gaze; Helen like Medusa, representing the danger men risk from gazing upon a sensual, sexually potent female; and the power of the female gaze. It considers how each director visually fashions his Helen to convey certain cultural messages which reflect the director's views on gender, sexuality, and other social constructs, and provide insight into the social and political issues of the respective film's times. Though distinct from each other, unlike other cinematic portrayals of Helen, these two films present more of her ancient Greek complexity, which results in two rich modern depictions.

Keywords:   Helen, Robert Wise, Helen of Troy, Michael Cacoyannis, The Trojan Women, gaze, gender, sexuality, social constructs

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