Sunday, September 17, 2006

XXII. LEONE DI TEBE (THE LION OF THEBES) 1965




The Lion of Thebes

Year;
1965

Director & Writer; Giorgio Ferroni / Andrei de Coligny / Remigio Del Grosso / Jean Kelter
Musical Score; Francesco de Masi

Country; Italy and France
Duration; 89 mins (Original film aspect ratio; 2.35:1)
Available; DVD Region 1 Trimark Home Video
Colour *FULLSCREEN*English Dub*

Alternative;
Hélène, reine de Troie, Lion de Thèbes, Le, The Lion of Thebes

The Players; Yvonne Furneaux (Helen of Troy), Mark Forrest (Aryan), Massimo Serato (Tutmes), Pierre Cressoy (Ramses), Rosalba Neri (Nais, Fiancee of Ramses), Carlo Tamberlani (Menophis), Alberto Lupo (Menelaus)

The Lion of Thebes is another decent outing by Ferroni which is highly adventurous and visually pleasing but that said - it does have its flaws. Don’t think you’re going gaga when watching Thebes as the action footage that featured in Ferroni’s The Trojan Horse and Hercules vs.the Moloch crop up here also.

I think if the scenes had been crap in the first instance I would find it to be a bit of a let down but because they are so well cinematographed it doesn’t really irk me much.

Ferroni creates a vibrant colourful Egypt and uses his trademark long-shots with the utmost respect for the surrounding area and its naturalistic beauty.

Mark Forest considers this to be one of his best performances and his favourite film he worked on. He admittedly does a decent job at bringing the hero ‘Aryan’ integrity and depth.

As ‘The Trojan Horse’ Ferroni uses this movie as a vehicle for the male lead and somehow brings out their individual talents. I have to say that this is accomplished so well, giving both actors freedom and scope changing the characters from the ‘stereotyped’ muscle heads to emotional, thoughtful heroes of myth.

The film follows, of sorts, ‘The Trojan Horse’ with the two protagonists Aryan and Helen of Troy fleeing the carnage carried out by their Greek victors.

Both wander, injured and dazed through the barren desert with the intention of settling in Thebes.

They find it a frying pan/ fire scenario as things aren’t too harmonious with
Egypt as Lower and Upper are locked in conflict. Both Pharaohs are intent of controlling both regions without compromise.

It’s not before too long Helen and Aryan are eventually captured by Rameses.

Ramses takes a shine to the beautiful Helen back at his courts; this does her know favours as she automatically gets up the nose of the bride to be Nais.

The Pharaoh is assassinated and the blame is anchored at the two new arrivals. The culprit is in fact the ruthless Tutmes.

Further court intrigue results in the two characters being separated. Helen is condemned to death via a crushing slab whilst Aryan is given over to the harsh existence of mortal combat.

Eventually both areas break their patience and with the current murder adding fuel to the fire a resulting war breaks out.

As Aryan becomes embroiled in the carnage at Thebes he is embroiled in deadly conflict where he has to save his own skin as well as ever nearing to saving that of his lover.

Unfortunately unlike Ferronis’ other forays into peplum this is done on the cheap and at times looks it. Lots of Gaudiness is chucked into the polychromatic whirlpool creating interesting but slightly vulgar set pieces, resembling an odd hybrid of ancient legend with wal-mart interior design.

The exterior sequences, as mentioned before are exceptionally handled but flaws in the interior shots. The desert could have had more time applied to it and lacks arid atmospherics to build up the tension a bit.

Despite a handful of poor-do’s The Lion of Thebes saves itself as being wholly entertaining with credible all round performances form the cast. A mention is also necessary with regard to Albert Lupos’ interpretation of Menelaus, it’s a show stealer.

Part of the region 1 TRIMARK box-set this little gem can be viewed in a good strong colour print but lacks the overall finesse as the print is disappointingly standard and not the original widescreen.

The U.K region 2 markets remains ashamedly barren of these peplum treats and The Lion of Thebes scarcity sadly reflects it.






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