Hercules Unchained

December 3, 2015 at 3:11 am (6 Heads, Hercules Unchained) (, , , , )

Hercules Unchained – 1959 – Italy/France

After adventuring abroad, Hercules returns to Greece. He is disturbed to find that Oedipus, the former king of Thebes, is a blind outcast. Oedipus’ two power hungry sons war for control of Thebes. On a diplomatic mission, Hercules negotiates between the two warlords. He is sidetracked when he accidentally drinks the “water of forgetfulness”. While suffering from amnesia, he is kidnapped by Queen Omphale of Lydia, and duped into being her lover. Hercules is eventually rescued by Ulysses, and the two team up to save Thebes from war. The film ends with an epic duel between Oedipus’ sons, followed by an epic battle between their armies.

Hercules Unchained is a direct sequel to Hercules (1957). The film combines various Greek legends with little concern for literary accuracy. It is a rousing adventure with plenty of action and drama, but there are also satisfying details for those familiar with the source material. The plot primarily focuses on the amnesiac Hercules’ seduction by Omphale. Omphale is a bittersweet character, who is cruelly manipulative but also wants to be loved. Using a magic pool enchanted by an Egyptian sorcerer, she turns her lovers into living statues. After being spurned by Hercules, she leaps into the pool herself. Oedipus also evokes pathos by descending into the underworld after failing to stop his sons from fighting.

Compared to Hercules Unchained’s more tragic characters, Hercules is pretty unexciting. He bends bars, throws statues, and wrestles tigers. His most remarkable feat involves toppling a siege tower with a grappling hook. However, he and the cunning young Ulysses have a gratifying relationship as they combine their opposite strengths to overcome challenges.

Hercules Unchained is a fine Hercules film with a healthy budget compared to other Italian efforts. The acting is competent, the sets and costumes are decadent, and the action scenes are ambitious. If nothing else, it might be the most erotic Hercules film, but the competition is not especially fierce.

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. Surprisingly, Hercules Unchained does not contain a scene where Hercules breaks a chain.


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