Oedipus Rex or Oedipus the King


Film versions

The play has been filmed several times, twice in English.

The 1957 film version, directed by Tyrone Guthrie, starred Douglas Campbell as Oedipus and had the cast performing the entire play in masks, as in ancient Greek theatre.

The second English language film version, directed by Philip Saville and released in 1968, was filmed in Greece. This one showed the actors' faces and boasted an all-star cast, including Christopher Plummer as Oedipus, Lilli Palmer as Jocasta, Orson Welles as Tiresias, Richard Johnson as Creon, Roger Livesey as the Shepherd, and Donald Sutherland as the Leading Member of the Chorus. Sutherland's voice, however, was dubbed by another actor. The film went a step further than the play, however, by actually showing, in flashback, the murder of Laius (Friedrich Ledebur). It also showed Oedipus and Jocasta in bed together, making love. Made in 1968, this film was not seen in Europe and the U.S. until the 1970s and 1980s after legal release and distribution rights were granted to video and TV.

In 1967 Pier Paolo Pasolini directed Edipo Re, a modern interpretation of the play. Toshio Matsumoto's 1969 film, Funeral Parade of Roses, is a loose adaptation of the play and an important work of the Japanese New Wave. In Colombia, writer Gabriel García Márquez adapted the story in Edipo Alcalde, bringing it to the real Colombian situation.

In Nigeria, Ola Rotimi (1938-2000) adapted the play and titled it, The gods are not to Blame in 1968. In 2012, the play was further adapted by Rasheed Otun and titled, The 'Gods' are STILL not to Blame. The film version of the same title, The Gods are STILL not to Blame was produced by Funke Fayoyin. It was premiered at Silverbird Galleria, Lagos, Nigeria. It has most of the notable film actors in Nigeria and got favourable comments from the media.

Stage versions

Composer Igor Stravinsky wrote an opera/oratorio version of Oedipus Rex, premiered in 1927 by the Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt, Paris. It is scored for orchestra, speaker, soloists, and male chorus. The libretto, based on Sophocles's tragedy, was written by Jean Cocteau in French and then translated by Abbé Jean Daniélou into Latin; the narration, however, is performed in the language of the audience. The work was written towards the beginning of Stravinsky's neoclassical period, and is considered one of the finest works from this phase of the composer's career. He had considered setting the work in Ancient Greek, but decided ultimately on Latin: in his words "a medium not dead but turned to stone."

TV/Radio versions

Michael Pennington starred as Oedipus with Claire Bloom as Jocasta, Sir John Gielgud as Tiresias and John Shrapnel as Creon in Don Taylor's 1986 translation/adaptation of the play, which formed part of the BBC's The Theban Plays trilogy.

In 1977, CBS Radio Mystery Theater broadcast a version of the story called "So Shall Ye Reap", set in what was then the US Territory of New Mexico in 1851.

Other television Oedipus's include Christopher Plummer (1957), Ian Holm (1972) and Patrick Stewart (1977).

In 2017, BBC Radio 3 broadcast a production of Anthony Burgess' translation of the play with Christopher Eccleston as Oedipus and Fiona Shaw as Tiresias/Second Elder. John Shrapnel, who starred as Creon in the 1986 BBC television version, played The First Elder.


Peter Schickele parodies both the story of Oedipus rex and the music of Stravinsky's oratorio-opera of the same name in Oedipus Tex, a Western-themed oratorio purportedly written by P.D.Q. Bach, released in 1990 on the album Oedipus Tex and Other Choral Calamities.

Chrysanthos Mentis Bostantzoglou makes a parody of this tragedy in his comedy Medea (1993).[31]

In episode ten of the second season of 'CNNNN', an Australian satirical television program made by The Chaser, a short animation in the style of a Disney movie trailer, complete with jaunty music provided by Andrew Hansen, parodies Oedipus Rex.[32] Apart from being advertised as "Fun for the whole family", the parody is also mentioned at other times during that same episode, such as in a satirical advertisement in which orphans are offered a free "Oedipus Rex ashes urn" as a promotional offer after losing a relative.[33]

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