Oedipus the King (1968 film)

Oedipus the King is a 1967 film directed by Philip Saville based on the Athenian tragedy Oedipus Rex by Sophocles. The film boasts 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.[1][2] Sutherland’s voice, however, was dubbed by other actors, British actor Valentine Dyall and British actor Patrick Allen, though Allen’s voice was uncredited.

1967 British film
Oedipus the King
Directed by Philip Saville
Written by Michael Luke
Philip Saville
Produced by Timothy Burrill
Michael Luke
Starring Christopher Plummer
Lilli Palmer
Orson Welles
Richard Johnson
Cinematography Walter Lassally
Music by Yiannis Hristou (as Jani Christou)
Crossroads World Film Services, Universal Pictures
Distributed by Rank Film Distributors
Release date
Running time
97 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The screenplay was originally based on Paul Roche‘s translation directly from the Greek published in the early 1950s. Saville’s first theatrical effort, the film remained theatrical in nature, and is known for its intensive dialogue typical of an ancient play.[3][4] However, the film went a step further than the play, by actually showing, in flashback, the murder of Laius (Friedrich Ledebur). It also showed Oedipus and Jocasta in bed together, making love.

. . . Oedipus the King (1968 film) . . .

Filmed in Greece at a ruined Greek theatre in Dodoni,[5] it was not seen in Europe and the U.S. until the 1970s and ’80s after legal release and distribution rights were granted to video and TV and was considered a rare film.

Amphitheatre in Dodoni, filming location of the film

Despite its calibre of actors, the film was not universally well received. New York Magazine described it as “almost comical” in a September 1968 review;[6] a 1972 review said “An elaborate production, overly academic and without much force or cinematic merit.”[5] However, in 1968 the Illustrated London News praised its “cinematic fluidity”[7] and Jon Solomon in 2001 said that the film was “distinguished by intensity and fine acting”, with Plummer’s Oedipus boasting “an arrogant, strong-willed title character”. However, Solomon also remarked that the film “would never have won first prize at an ancient Athenian contest.[8]Leonard Maltin in 2006 said that the “film version of Sophocles play is OK for students who have a test on it the next day, but others won’t appreciate this version.”[9]

. . . Oedipus the King (1968 film) . . .

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. . . Oedipus the King (1968 film) . . .

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