Group effort by Matthew Chandler, Alexis Jackson, and Emily Drisch

Plot Outline Edit

Moon men land on near the Ancient Greek city of Samar. For years, they demand the people of Samar to sacrifice their children to them. The queen, Samara, has been working with the Moon men to become the strongest women on the planet. They want her to sacrifice her sister, Billis, so they can revive their own queen. Hercules arrives and must fight Samara’s soldiers, escape multiple traps and trick the queen herself to save the people of Samar. His allies are Darix and Agar, who are both brave but not exactly heroes. He also has the support of the people but their bravery wavers throughout. Eventually Hercules goes to the mountain of the Moon men and battles rock monsters before saving Billis and escaping an eruption. Finally Hercules and Agar ride off into the sunset, leaving Billis and Darix to rule a now peaceful Samar. [1]

Background of the Film Edit

Maciste Edit

Although the “moon men” and most characters are largely fake. Hercules is modeled after the Italians’ “maciste”—appeals to a western, American audience when under the name “Hercules." Maciste was first constructed simply as an Italian cinematic character like Hercules born out of the early 1900s Italian silent films. For example, the 1914 film Cabiria featured Italian Bartolomeo Pagano as Maciste, an African strongman slave with a penchant for saving damsels in distress. During WWI the Italians loved the silent savior, even when Bartolomeo Pagano's Maciste took on the nationalist qualities of Mussolini.[2]

However, over time, the original reasoning was forgotten for Maciste evolved to appeal to American audiences--Maciste was created into a folklore character, oftentimes shown as being born or emerging from rocks (1960s revival period)--and became the full blown Steve Reeve's Hercules of the late 60s and early 70s.

Ahistorical Mythologies Within the Film Edit

Several different mythologies in the works within the film, including Greek, Roman, and Ancient Egyptian. Not really faithful to any one particular historical reference. Campy Sword and Sandal film combined with Sci-fi. Part of a 1960s Hercules revival in film within the peplum genre.

Production: Effects and Score Edit

Production was extremely low-budget and seemingly standard. Only in camera effects were used because of the small scale of the film. Moon men costumes created to look like moon rocks. The only effects and sequences of note were the 5-minute sandstorm scene. And the use of color in the moon mens’ kingdom: differentiated worlds by using a sepia color to create tone. Score created by Carlo Franci. Determined the emotion of the scenes, similar to other Sword and Sandal films. Sound during the Moon Men attacks can found in many old sci fi movies.

Themes and Interpretations Edit

Similar to the films we saw in the beginning of the semester, there was a glorification of the ideal male physique. There were plenty of tight shots of just Hercules’s oiled-muscular body. Even during scenes where his life was at risk. The movie appeared to take every chance it could, showing off Hercules’s strength. His strength was also furthered by the weakness/fragility of all the other male characters, a lot of whom would call out for his assistance.

All the female characters are wearing white, symbolizing innocence. Except the evil queen Samara wore darker colors, lipstick and with lots of jewelry.

The “linguistic paradigm” was present. With English language dubbing, Hercules sounded very American Midwestern while the villainous Queen Samara and the Moon men’s accents were very “proper” and British inspired. It reinforced the idea that “true” heroism is inextricably linked to (often idealized) U.S. traits.

The film being very high concept and true to the peplum genre, was very plot centered and didn’t focus much on character development. For example, Hercules was strong and was regarded as such till the very end. Character’s typically stuck to their initially assigned qualities. There’s no backstory to any of the characters and knowledge of characters is strictly based on circumstance.

The film’s plot was rooted in the hero vs. villain fantasy trope. Despite the director’s intent to make the moon men the main antagonist, a large part of the movie was dedicate to showing the villainous nature of Queen Samara. Since she was ultimately just a vehicle for facilitating the goal of world domination for the Moon men, it appears she served as the trope of the “untrustworthy,” “conniving” woman. Hercules and Agar also fulfill the trope of the “hero being entitled to his desired love interest.” He literally sweeps her off her feet and they ride a horse into the sunset.

References Edit