Phaedra is a 1962 drama film that was directed by Jules Dassin as a vehicle for his partner (and future wife) Melina Mercouri, after her worldwide hit titled “Never On Sunday”. This film was the fourth collaboration between Dassin and Mercouri, who took on the title role. Greek Writer Margarita Lymberaki adapted the story of Euripides’ Hippolytus into a melodrama concerning the rich society of ship owners and their families, but still maintaining some of the tragic elements of the ancient drama. The film takes place in Paris and London, as well as the Greek Island of Hydra.
This movie tells us the story of the powerful Greek shipowner and constructor Thanos when he proposes to marry Phaedra during the baptism of a ship bearing her name. Phaedra, is the daughter of Thanos’ greatest competitor. He gives a considerably expensive ring to her and soon learns that his estranged son from his first marriage, Alexis, has left the London School of Economics to dedicate himself to painting. Thanos and Phaedra both travel to London to discuss this recent change with Alexis; however that’s when things ultimately take a turn for the worst and the real juicy drama begins.
This movie was originally released in 1962 and was considered to be a huge success in Europe, however a box-office bomb in the USA. Although Mercouri and Perkins became friends during the filming, the magazines, and especially “Esquire” magazine, attacked the film because of Perkins’s vulnerability. “Phaedra” was the first of several films that teamed Perkins with other notable older female stars.
The Film Itself (3/5):
When I had initially gotten into writing about films, I knew that I’d be getting myself into films that I wouldn’t normally watch. Phaedra certainly is a film that I wouldn’t normally pick up off of the shelf; and in all honesty, I don’t think I’ll be watching this film again anytime soon. Not that this movie was considerably bad or anything, but it was something that wasn’t really up my alley. This film takes your more classical mythological truisms and presents them in a more modern method. Loosely telling us a story that was originally written by Euripides, we see the tale of the beautiful, rich, yet bored Phaedra and her tribulations that are a result of her love affair with her stepson; and we all know that when situations like this occur, there’s trouble to be had.
Picture Quality (5/5):
Just like every other release from Olive Films that I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing, Phaedra really shines in terms of picture quality. As this film was originally released in the early ’60s, you can tell that the crew who worked on this release really put in the added effort to maintain the original feel that audiences experienced when this film originally came out. Presented in a crisp, and sharp black and white presentation, my wife and I were able to see everything unfold before our eyes and visually understand everything as the story moved onward.
Audio Quality (2/5):
Just like my experience with Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood earlier this week, Phaedra left a lot to be asked for in terms of audio presentation. With this release, we are given a Mono English audio track that definitely required the occasional manual adjustment of the volume levels on my receiver as we watched it. Coming through only our center speaker, it was a little difficult to clearly hear everything as the movie progressed; and regardless of the original source material, I think that if you’re going to put in some work in giving audiences the best presentation for a release, at least work with the audio track and give them a stereo track; at a minimum.
The Packaging (3/5):
Phaedra comes packaged in your typical Blu-ray amaray case. Contained within that case is the standard Blu-ray disc of the film. There is no DVD copy nor is there any digital copy redemption pamphlets. There is no slipcover included with this release.
Special Features (1/5):
There really isn’t much in terms of additional content included with Phaedra. Included on the disc is the films original theatrical trailer and nothing else. I would’ve loved to have seen some documentary-esque interviews with some of the cast or even an interview with Dassin and his experiences in the original production; but it’s possible that footage like that doesn’t exist; and in that case, interviews with any surviving cast or crew members for this film as they worked on bringing this Blu-ray release to us.
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Original Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
Original Film: 115 minutes
As you can see after reading through my review, Phaedra wasn’t really my type of film. That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a horrible movie by any means; the story that we’re presented was done in an efficient manner as it takes the tribulations of ancient Greek writings and presents them in a more modern route. It’s more that stories like this are the kind that I don’t really find to be enjoyable. The picture quality of this release was superb as my wife and I were able to visually appreciate the story that was being provided. The audio track definitely left a lot to be asked for; but that’s mostly because of the added effort that went into trying to hear everything.
If you find the telling of ancient drama’s enjoyable, or even are interested in checking out how the production crew were able to pull off telling this story in a more modern way, then I would definitely recommend checking out Phaedra. You can grab it from Amazon for a more than reasonable price today! Please understand that the cover art that’s featured on the Amazon product page is not that of this release, the cover art that’s featured on the Amazon page is more that of a generic placeholder and the actual cover art is featured above in the packaging section.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.