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The Odyssey

Promotional poster
Directed by Andrei Konchalovsky
Produced by Nicholas Meyer
Francis Ford Coppola
Dyson Lovell
Written by Homer
Andrei Konchalovsky
Starring Armand Assante
Greta Scacchi
Isabella Rossellini
Vanessa L. Williams
Music by Eduard Artemyev
Cinematography Sergei Kozlov
Editing by Michael Ellis
Distributed by Hallmark
American Zoetrope
Release date(s) May 18, 1997
Running time 176 min.
Country Italy
United Kingdom
United States
Language English

The Odyssey is an Emmy award-winning and Golden Globe-nominated [1] miniseries on NBC from 1997, directed by Andrei Konchalovsky who won the award for "Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries or a Special". The series is based on the ancient Greek epic poem, The Odyssey, which is usually attributed to Homer. It was filmed in Malta and Turkey, as well as many other places around the Mediterranean Sea, where the story takes place. For its DVD release, The Odyssey has been edited into a 3-hour film. The DVD has since been discontinued.



The miniseries follows the story of The Odyssey, about King Odysseus, on his two decade-long return from the Trojan War to his homeland of Ithaca in Greece.

As well as the Odyssey, the series takes some scenes from Homer's other epic poem, the Iliad, and others from Virgil's epic poem, the Aeneid.


Differences from Homer's story

  • Events such as Odysseus’ encounters with the Sirens, the Laestrygonians, the Lotus Eaters, and the cattle of Helios are left out of the movie.
  • The story is presented in chronological order here, whereas Homer's Odyssey actually begins in medias res, or in the middle of the tale, with the beginning of the story coming later in a flashback by Odysseus.
  • Nicholas Clay’s portrayal of Menelaus shows him having black hair. He is stated to have had red hair in the book.
  • Agamemnon and Menelaus come to fetch Odysseus to take part in the Trojan War. In mythology, it is Palamedes who does this. He finds Odysseus feigning madness in order to avoid the war.
  • Hector challenges Achilles to fight, instead of the other way around.
  • Achilles kills Hector in the midst of battle, rather than during a duel.
  • Achilles is depicted fighting bare chested. In mythology, he wore armour that had been made for him by the god Hephaestus.
  • Only Laocoon is eaten by the sea monster, and not his two sons.
  • The film says that Achilles died in the seventh year in the war, whereas he actually fell in the tenth.
  • Odysseus earns the wrath of Poseidon by blinding the god's son, the Cyclops Polyphemus. While the film does indeed include the blinding of Polyphemus, it also explains Poseidon's wrath as the result of Odysseus' boast that he conquered Troy without the aid of the gods.
  • Odysseus finds Aeolus alone, sitting on a small throne in a cave, instead of in a large palace.
  • Aeolus identifies himself as the cousin of Poseidon. He is more usually seen as a son of Poseidon and in Homer he is a son of Hippotes and a mortal king.
  • In the film, when Odysseus' men release the wind that Aeolus had given him they are blown away from Ithaca to Circe's island. According to Homer, Odysseus was blown directly back to Aeolus, who refused to help him a second time, seeing that he must be cursed by the gods.
  • The scene where Odysseus finds out that the five days he spent in Circe’s palace were actually five years in the outside world isn’t in the book. In the book, they only spent one year there.
  • In the book, Odysseus's mother Anticlea does not specify how she dies, only that she killed herself. In the movie, she commits suicide by walking into the sea in front of Penelope and drowning herself.
  • In the book, the men only turn into pigs, whereas in the movie, they are turned into various animals.
  • The shroud that Penelope weaves to stall the suitors is not supposed to be for Odysseus, but for Laertes, his father.
  • In the book, Elpenor dies by falling off the roof of one of Circe’s houses. In the movie, he is the first man devoured by Scylla.
  • While in the Underworld, Odysseus speaks only to Tiresias and his dead mother. In the book, he speaks to a whole host of people, such as Achilles, Agamemnon and others.
  • Scylla apparently has only three heads in the movie (although she is never fully revealed from the shadows), instead of six in the book. Likewise, only three men instead of six are eaten by her.
  • In the book, Scylla lives high on a rock, and boats must steer close to the rock in the narrow strait to keep from being pulled into the whirlpool of Charybdis. In the movie, the ship enters a river through a cave with Scylla hiding inside, and at the other end of the river there is a waterfall that dumps the ship into Charybdis. This introduces a logical flaw to this part of the route, inasmuch as there's no way to survive it.
  • The film says that Odysseus spent two years on the island of Calypso. Homer says he spent seven years with her.
  • When Telemachus travels to Sparta to see Menelaus in the movie, he does not encounter the king's famous wife, Helen.
  • The old dog Argos that is the first to recognize Odysseus upon his arrival is left out in the movie.
  • When Euryclea encounters Odysseus, she does not reveal which of the servant girls had conspired with the suitors. The hanging of these twelve girls is also never shown.
  • Antinous actually never tried to string Odysseus' bow in the book.
  • Many of the suitors die differently in the finale. For instance, in the movie, Antinous is speared to the wall by Telemachus, whereas in the book, he dies from an arrow in the throat. No suitors in the movie survive.
  • Eumaeus and Philoetius do not help Odysseus slaughter the suitors, only Telemachus does.
  • The female servants in the book are executed for having sex with the suitors, while in the telefilm only one servant (Melanthe) has sex with a suitor, Eurymachus. She dies accidentally when she opens the door to free Eurymachus and Odysseus's arrow is shot straight through them.
  • Penelope does not test Odysseus about their great rooted bed.
  • In the book, the men escape the Cyclops by clinging onto the belly of its sheep. In the movie, the men run out of the cave, and one of them is killed. The only reference to the disguise is one of the men draping sheepskin over his body to fool the Cyclops' touch.
  • In the book, all of the men but Odysseus are lost after killing the cattle of Helios. In the movie, the men are all killed when they fall into Charybdis' maw.


External links



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