Oedipus Rex ('Edipo re') Review

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Left in the desert to die by his jealous father, baby Oedipus is found and raised as royalty. horrified at a prophecy that he is destined to kill his father and marry his mother, he flees, but clashes with an older stranger on his travels whom his kills in a fight, who turns out to be the father that abandoned him so long ago.


Pasolini opens his visually exquisite and effectively atmospheric film with the birth of baby Oedipus in 40s Italy, and ends it with his death in the 60s. Apart from this intriguingly odd departure, his version of the tale in which Oedipus, as prophesied, kills his father and marries his mother, is a solidly executed and interesting piece of work.

The traditionally formal style and accouterments of classical Greek drama are abandoned in favour of a more gutsy humanity and emotionalism. Citti, while reaching no great heights, is an able and attractive hero, Mangano's Jocasta a classy queen-mother.

Intellectually confident and visually imaginative, Pasolini makes this ancient tragedy entertaining and accessible.