Antigone, an ancient Greek tragedy written by Sophocles around 442 BC, remains a source of inspiration for multiple play-writers, artists, and filmmakers. It addresses the theme of the internal power of gods and the worldliness of people’s power, the conflict between natural law and governmental one, the significance of justice, and the outcome of pride. Antigone was put on the stage multiple times in various countries across the globe, and Antigone of 1961 directed by Yorgos Javellas is regarded as the tragedy’s best film adaptation.
In general, both the text and the film have a lot of similarities as this classic film version follows the original story as close as possible. In the decorations of ancient Greece, the film helps viewers to immerse themselves in the tragedy and reflect on the feelings of the protagonists. Both the film and the original play emphasize the same issues – the importance of natural law and a fight for justice, family loyalty and love for relatives that may be more important than the government, civil disobedience and its expediency, and the result of people’s arrogance, immorality, and blindness.
At the same time, several differences between the two versions may be detected and the majority of them are connected with the peculiarities of stage performance and its standards. The film may be regarded as an adapted and more modern version of the play for a large audience as almost all dialogues are contracted, and heroes generally try to present the main messages of the plot without extensive reflections typical for an original text. Moreover, in the film, the chorus is missed, and, as a result, all dialogues with it are missed as well, though due to several natural reasons. First of all, the chorus plays a highly significant role in stage performance as it gives time for viewers to reflect on the tragedy’s previous parts and time for actors to change costumes and prepare for the next scene. However, in film production, these pauses are not necessary, and that is why the chorus was replaced by assembled elders and soldiers. In addition, a film adaptation did not presuppose dancing and singing.
In addition, the end of the film differs from the original end in the tragedy as Creon overwhelmed by the death of his relatives relinquishes his kingship and leaves Thebes instead of returning to his palace in the original play. Moreover, dramatic personages in the tragedy may be characterized by exaggerated emotionality typical for stage performances. For instance, in the film, Antigone is angry about Ismene’s choice not to join her and bury their brother, Polynices, however, in the text, she expresses hatred for her sister, asks her to let everyone know about what she wants to do, and talk about death.
From a personal perspective, Antigone is a marvelous work of ancient Greek literature that addresses highly significant issues that did not lose their relevancy in the present day. At the same time, the film adaptation of this tragedy may be regarded as a recommendable work worth seeing as well. It helps viewers better understand the original story’s messages and atmosphere. In addition, the audience has an opportunity to imagine people’s way of living, traditions, and rules in ancient times. And both the film and the play make people reflect on the significance of law, justice, family, and duty.