Myths and Legends

9 Jan 2015 – 8 Mar 2015 | GOMA | Cinema A

Celebrating the world of heroic deeds, epic journeys and sacred stories, 'Myths and Legends' considers depictions of these two cinematic genres and the insights they provide into the mysteries and wonders of our existence.

The program explores the powerful relationships between classic folklore and modern cinematic storytelling, incorporating renditions and reinterpretations of classic tales, as well as contemporary accounts that translate mythic metaphors into unexpected genres, such as film noir, science fiction, adventure, drama, romance, comedy and the western.

'Myths and Legends' features the epic battles of classical mythology and Arthurian legend, as well as mythological stories and sacred tales from around the world, tales of the questing hero, and even those heroic journeys found in everyday life.

Play it Again, Sam: Film and Modern Mythology
Sat 7 Feb 1.00pm / Cinema A

From Casablanca 1942 to Pulp Fiction 1994, explore how different cinematic genres offer refreshing twists on classic mythic narratives with 'Myths and Legends' curator Amanda Slack-Smith, Australian Cinémathèque.

QAGOMA thanks the American Genre Archive, Austin; Danish Film Institute, Copenhagen; Library of Congress, Washington, DC; George Eastman House, Rochester, New York; National Film Centre, Tokyo; and National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra for providing film prints for this program. Program curated by Amanda Slack-Smith, Australian Cinémathèque.


Silent Cinema
Mythological tales in early silent cinema feature stories of heroism, sacrifice and reward with historical figures, both real and fictitious.

The Mark of Zorro 1920 | Director: Fred Niblo
Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (The Golem, How He Came into the World) 1920 | Directors: Paul Wegener, Carl Boese
Faust - Eine deutsche Volkssage (Faust – A German Folk-Tale) 1926 | Director: Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc) 1928 | Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer

Sacred Stories and Classic Tales
This selection of mystical adventures celebrates the sacred in cinema and features gods, spirits, monsters and heroes, drawing on the metaphors, symbols and patterns found in classic mythology and tales. From the rituals surrounding rites of passage — birth, puberty, maturation and death — these potent metaphors provide a lens through which we can interpret our experiences and understand the how and why of our existence.

Jason and the Argonauts 1963 | Director: Don Chaffey
Clash of the Titans 1981 | Director: Desmond Davis
Ambavi Suramis tsikhitsa (The Legend of Suram Fortress) 1984 | Directors: Sergei Parajanov, Dodo Abashidze
Yeleen (Brightness) 1987 | Director: Souleymane Cissé
Mononoke-hime (Princess Mononoke) 1997 | Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Atanarjuat (Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner) 2001 | Director: Zacharias Kunuk
Whale Rider 2002 | Director: Niki Caro
Ten Canoes 2006 | Director: Rolf De Heer, Peter Djigirr
The Legend of Shangri-La 2006 | Director: Chen Ming
Putting down the prey 2008 | Director: Nathalie Djurberg
Indigo 2014 | Director: Amanda Strong

The Tale Retold
From a reimagining of Homer's The Odyssey as a 1930s Depression-era adventure in the American Deep South (O Brother, Where Art Thou? 2000) to a futuristic take on the Jewish folktale The Golem (The Terminator 1984), this selection of films offers classic mythological stories with a contemporary twist.

Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus) 1959 | Director: Marcel Camus
The Wicker Man 1973 | Director: Robin Hardy
Monty Python and the Holy Grail 1975 | Directors: Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones
The Terminator 1984 | Director: James Cameron
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1989 | Director: Steven Spielberg
Pretty Woman 1990 | Director: Gary Marshall
The Fisher King 1991 | Director: Terry Gilliam
Army of Darkness 1992 | Director: Sam Raimi
Faust (Jan Svankmajer's Faust) 1994 | Director: Jan Svankmajer
O Brother Where Art Thou? 2000 | Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Sita Sings the Blues 2008 | Director: Nina Paley

Epic Tales
Ambitious in both scope and pageantry, these films embrace the traditions of the historical epic. Often set during times of oppression or war, and featuring a cast of thousands, these films depict a series of gruelling tests the hero must undergo to save a people, city or country from destruction and, in doing so, change the course of history.

The Ten Commandments 1956 | Director: Cecil B DeMille
Ben-Hur 1959 | Director: William Wyler
Spartacus 1960 | Director: Stanley Kubrick
Cleopatra 1963 | Director: Joseph L Mankiewicz
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 2001 | Director: Peter Jackson
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 2002 | Director: Peter Jackson
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King 2003 | Director: Peter Jackson

The Adventuring Hero
A champion of the oppressed, these gallant protagonists capture the imagination with their unwavering heroic virtue and willingness to face exceptional odds in the name of honour and justice.

The Scarlet Pimpernel 1934 | Director: Harold Young
The Adventures of Robin Hood 1938 | Directors: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley
Shichinin no samurai (Seven Samurai) 1954 | Director: Akira Kurosawa

The Spiritual Quest
From the poetic quest to find the secrets of love (The Dove's Lost Necklace 1991) to encounters with the supernatural (Kwaidan 1964), this selection of films celebrate the inner journey of the spiritual hero; one of mind, heart, and spirit. The spiritual hero embraces varying roles such as mother, wanderer, pilgrim and tragic figure. Traversing a similar path to their adventuring counterpart –separation, initiation and return – the psychological obstacles faced by the spiritual hero are no less challenging, the prize of knowledge gained any less valuable.

Kaidan (Kwaidan aka Ghost Stories) 1964 | Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Kuroneko (Black Cat) 1968 | Director: Kaneto Shindô
Le Collier Perdu de la Colombe (The Dove's Lost Necklace) 1991 | Director: Nacer Khemir
Bab'Aziz (Bab'Aziz - The Prince That Contemplated His Soul) 2005 | Director: Nacer Khemir
The Secret of Kells 2009 | Directors: Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey

Descent into the Underworld
A selection of films that consider the reoccurring themes in mythology of death, burial and rebirth. Forced to confront their greatest fears, the hero faces overwhelming obstacles before overcoming death and returning forever changed by their experiences. These descents into the underworlds are depicted through physical (Aliens 1986), psychological (Jacob's Ladder 1990) and metaphorical (The Seventh Seal 1957) challenges.

Det sjunde inseglet (The Seventh Seal) 1957 | Director: Ingmar Bergman
Jacob's Ladder 1990 | Director: Adrian Lyne
Aliens 1986 | Director: James Cameron
Fight Club 1999 | Director: David Fincher
The Babadook 2014 | Director: Jennifer Kent

Myths in Modern Times
Celebrating the heroic journeys found in everyday life, this selection of films explores the cinematic adaptations of mythical stories, and the recurring patterns and themes that underpin them, through a range of cinematic genres such as film noir (The Maltese Falcon 1941), action adventure (Mad Max 1979), fantasy (The Dark Crystal 1982) and the western (Unforgiven 1992).

The Maltese Falcon 1941 | Director: John Huston
Casablanca 1942 | Director: Michael Curtiz
Mad Max 1979 | Director: George Miller
The Dark Crystal 1982 | Directors: Jim Henson, Frank Oz
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 1982 | Director: Steven Spielberg
An Officer and a Gentleman 1982 | Director: Taylor Hackford
Unforgiven 1992 | Director: Clint Eastwood
Pulp Fiction 1994 | Director: Quentin Tarantino