Anna Tsanava

Panel 3F Transcodifications in/of the Ancient World/2
Session 3 – July 2, 11:00 – 13:00

  Re-telling the Tragedy: Cinematic Vision of the Myth of Iphigenia in The Killing of a Sacred Deer by Yorgos Lanthimos

 One of the most interesting cases of fiction transcodification in the contemporary epoch is the transformation of ancient Greek tragedy into cinematic language. In this respect, many important movie productions were created in the cinematography of the twentieth century. In the twenty-first century, one of the most thrilling cases in this regard is the film by the most provocative and nonconventional directors of recent times, Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”. The picture represents a movie interpretation of the ancient fable of  Iphigenia,  particularly,  the tragedy by Euripides “Iphigenia in Aulis”. In the paper, we aim to show by what means Yorgos Lanthimos translates the Euripidean text into cinema media. In this regard, three major aspects of transition will be highlighted: a) Setting and action substitution; On the plot level, the director changes the classical tragic narrative, e.g. puts the story in the XXI century. Such attitude simplifies comprehension of the tragedy from audience point of view; b) Visual storytelling and camera movement: Lanthimos loads the major meditation tools of the medium such as image construction and camera movement with metaphorical meanings.  It is through them that the director transforms such central concepts of the tragedy like morality, justice, sacrifice, and et. c.; c) Acting style: Terrifying emotional atmosphere of the tragedy is transformed through deadpan and mechanical communications between characters, which also shows the dysfunctionality of contemporary human interrelations.  The outcomes of the paper will summarize how Yorgos Lanthimos manages to create the exact emotional and ideological cinematic counterpart of the tragedy using the above mention transitional tools.  We consider the movie as the paradigm for how to transcodify literary text into the most popular media of contemporaneity without losing the high artistic level of the literature and the universal nature of the problem rendered through the same text.