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The Trojan Women
Directed by Michael Cacoyannis
Produced by Josef Sheftel
Starring Katharine Hepburn as Hecuba, Queen of the Trojans

Vanessa Redgrave as Andromache, widow of Hector

Geneviève Bujold as Cassandra, Hecuba's daughter

Irene Papas as Helen of Troy

Brian Blessed as Talthybius
Release date(s) 1971

The Trojan Women is a 1971 film, directed by Michael Cacoyannis and stars Katharine Hepburn and Vanessa Redgrave. The film was made with the minimum of changes to Edith Hamilton's translation of Euripides' original play, written in 415 B.C., although Cacoyannis said: "We left out the Gods, as they are hard to film and make realistic."



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, must raise her son in the war's aftermath; Cassandra (Geneviève Bujold), Hecuba's daughter who has been driven insane by the ravages of war, waits to see if King Agamemnon will drive her into concubinage; Helen of Troy (Irene Papas), waits to see if she will live. But the most awful truth is unknown to them until Talthybius (Brian Blessed), the messenger of the Greek king, comes to the ruined city and tells them that King Agamemnon and his brother Menelaus have decreed that Hector's son Astyanax must die — the last of the male royalty of Troy must be executed to ensure the extinction of the line.


When filming began in the village of Atienza, 80 miles north 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 to that 'sloppy' generation. In fact the actresses got on well, talking about painting, politics, and acting —Hepburn expressed enthusiasm for Redgrave's 1966 Rosalind in As You Like It— and both actresses began to learn Spanish.[1]

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 haven't 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."[1]

Katharine Hepburn's costume was designed by Nicholas Georgiadis of Covent Garden. Cacoyannis hand-picked Italy's 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, I've 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.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Photoplay Film Monthly February 1971

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