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Review of ‘Thessalus and Medea’ – a short film by Flying Dutchman Productions

SEEN often ponders that it doesn’t matter how many years pass, time and again, film creatives turn to the Greek classics as source material, reinventing their eternal themes and making them relevant to a modern audience’s sensibilities. It’s an aspect of postmodernism that stories are sometimes explored that do not strictly exist as source material but live (as it were) between the lines, or happen before or after the events described. The effects are redemptive.

Thessalus & Medea trailer from Flying Dutchman Films on Vimeo.

One such is Thessalus and Medea by Writer/Director Jan Hendrik Verstraten, and Creative Director Massimo Barbato. This ambitious short film explores the mother-son bond and the power it exerts even after years of separation. Medea lives as an oracle underground in a windowless labyrinth attended only by a nurse. Abandoned by her kin for the dreadful crime of murdering two of her children, Medea contemplates her own end. She is reviled by society and her oracular powers no longer believed, when into her life walks her troubled remaining son, Thessalus, charged with a task he has no wish to carry out.

The film looks spectacular, recalling for SEEN the gold and shadows of Julie Taymor’s acclaimed ‘Titus’. It was shot in a Napoleonic underground fort, making great use of the strange angles and cold chambers. The actors embody their roles, bringing the weight of history and family dysfunction to every glance and close-up, allowing the story to unfold in a suspenseful, almost trance-like way. Jan and Massimo are sending the film out to festivals. It deserves every success and is a worthy addition to the great canon of Greek tragedy on screen.