ⓘ The Trojan Women (film)


ⓘ The Trojan Women (film)

The Trojan Women is a 1971 American-British-Greek drama film directed by Michael Cacoyannis and starring Katharine Hepburn and Vanessa Redgrave. The film was made with the minimum of changes to Edith Hamiltons translation of Euripides original play, save for the omission of deities, as Cacoyannis said they were "hard to film and make realistic".


1. Synopsis

The Trojan Women was one of a trilogy of plays dealing with the suffering created by the Trojan Wars. Hecuba Katharine Hepburn, Queen of the Trojans and mother of Hector, one of Troys most fearsome warriors, looks upon the remains of her kingdom; Andromache Vanessa Redgrave, widow of the slain Hector and mother of his son Astyanax, believes that she must raise her son in the wars aftermath; however, Talthybius Brian Blessed, the messenger of the Greeks, comes to the ruined city, and tells them that King Agamemnon and his brother Menelaus have decreed that Hectors son Astyanax must die - the last of the male royalty of Troy must be executed to ensure the extinction of the line. Cassandra Genevieve Bujold, Hecubas daughter who has been driven insane by the ravages of war, waits to see if King Agamemnon will send her into concubinage, while Helen of Troy Irene Papas, waits to see if she will live.


2. Cast

  • Patrick Magee as Menelaus, King of Sparta
  • Irene Papas as Helen of Troy
  • Katharine Hepburn as Hecuba, Queen of the Trojans
  • Vanessa Redgrave as Andromache, widow of Hector
  • Genevieve Bujold as Cassandra, Hecubas daughter
  • Brian Blessed as Talthybius

3. Production

When filming began in the Spanish village of Atienza, 80 miles north-east of Madrid, sections of the press were speculating that there might be fireworks between the lead actresses. Hepburn had recently gone on record deploring the moral squalor and carelessness of the modern generation, and the impulsive and radical Redgrave was thought by some of the press to be a symbol of that "sloppy" generation. In fact, the actresses got on well, talking about painting, politics, and acting - Hepburn expressed enthusiasm for Redgraves 1966 Rosalind in As You Like It - and both actresses began to learn Spanish.

Cacoyannis first staged The Trojan Women in Italy in 1963, with Rod Steiger, Claire Bloom, and Mildred Dunnock in the leading roles. Later in the same year, he took the production to New York, and in 1965, to Paris. "For me", he said in a 1971 magazine interview, "the play is particularly pertinent and real. What the play is saying is as important today as it was when it was written. I feel very strongly about war, militarism, killing people. and I havent found a better writer who makes that point more clearly than Euripides. The play is about the folly of war, the folly of people killing others and forgetting that they are going to die themselves."

Katharine Hepburns costume was designed by Nicholas Georgiadis of Covent Garden. Cacoyannis hand-picked Italys Franco Freda and Adalgisa Favella as make-up artist and hair stylist, respectively, for the film. Both were veterans of the films of Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Luchino Visconti.

Hepburn said of her acting for this part: "My acting has always been a little flamboyant and rococo. But for this part, Ive had to pare right down to the bare essentials." Her acting voice dropped, after special training, by an octave, and was almost accentless; the familiar twanging pitch and East Coast rhythms almost vanished.


4. Awards

Kansas City Film Critics Circle

  • Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress - Katharine Hepburn won

National Board of Review of Motion Pictures

  • NBR Award for Best Actress - Irene Papas won
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