The Odyssey

The Odyssey is a 1997 American fantasy-adventure television miniseries and Emmy award-winning and Golden Globe-nominated[1] . Directed by Andrei Konchalovsky, the miniseries aired in two-parts beginning on May 18, 1997 on NBC. The series later won the award for “Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries or a Special”. The series is based on the ancient Greek epic poem, The Odyssey, which is usually attributed to Homer. It was filmed in Malta and Turkey, as well as many other places around the Mediterranean Sea, where the story takes place, plus parts of England. The international all-star cast includes Armand Assante, Greta Scacchi, Irene Pappas, Isabella Rosselini, Bernadette Peters, Christopher Lee, and Vanessa L. Williams.


Odysseus (Armand Assante), the king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Ithaca, is called to service in the Trojan War right after the birth of his son Telemachus much to the dismay of his wife Queen Penelope (Greta Scacchi). Odysseus is worried that he may not return, and tells Penelope that she should remarry by the time Telemachus is a man if he does not return. The war winds up lasting a whopping ten years, during which Greece’s best soldier, Achilles (Richard Trewett), is killed and they avenge him by using a giant horse to sneak inside to destroy the city of Troy. Laocoön (Heathcote Williams) tries to warn the Trojans of a vision revolving around this, but is suddenly devoured by a sea monster. On the way back, Odysseus’ ego gets the best of him and he tells the Gods that he did it himself, which angers Poseidon (voiced by Miles Anderson) to the point where he promises to make his journey home to Penelope nearly impossible even mentioning that he was the one who sent that sea monster to devour Laocoön. However, Odysseus is smart and quick, and may end up getting home after all.

First, they wind up on an island dominated by gigantic one-eyed beasts. The cyclops named Polyphemus (Reid Asato) traps them in his cave intending to eat them, but Odysseus gets him drunk on wine, causing him to pass out. Then, he sharpens a tree branch into a stake and blinds the cyclops, allowing them to escape by hiding under sheep skins when he removes the heavy stone door. Polyphemus screams for help, but Odysseus had tricked him stating that his name was “Nobody”, so the cyclops is shouting that nobody has tricked him, arousing no suspicion. Odysseus and his men escape, but Odysseus taunts the Cyclops who asks his father Poseidon to avenge him. This ends up making Odysseus’ journey home harder.

Odysseus ends up on an island where King Aeolus (Michael J. Pollard) ends up providing him with a bag of wind to help him home and to open it when he gets close to Ithaca. One of his men opens it prematurely blowing them off course. Next, they wind up on the island of Circe (Bernadette Peters), a beautiful witch who turns his men into animals and blackmails him into sleeping with her. Of course Odysseus gets a heads up about Circe’s magic from Hermes (Freddy Douglas). She tells him that the Underworld is where to go next, and only then does Odysseus realize that he has actually been tricked by Circe, who put a spell on him so he actually stayed on the island for five years. Odysseus digs his ship out of the sand and tide and sails to the Underworld where Tiresias (Christopher Lee) torments him, recognizing his courage and wit, but criticizing his ego and foolishness. After Odysseus throws a goat into the River Styx, Tiresias tells Odysseus on how to get home with one of the obstacles being an isle where Scylla and Charybdis lives. As he is running in terror from the underworld, he finds that his mother Anticlea (Irene Papas) has committed suicide because Odysseus was away for so long. She informs him that there are multiple suitors planning to marry Penelope for her money and power.

Odysseus’ boat ends up near the isle of Scylla and Charybdis. Scylla’s six snake heads wreak havoc on the crew, killing many, everyone but Odysseus is killed when Charybdis creates a whirlpool and destroys his ship. Odysseus ends up on the island where Calypso (Vanessa L. Williams) lives and ends up stuck there for years. Meanwhile, Odysseus’ now 15-year-old son Telemachus (Alan Stenson) tries to find his father and is told by Athena (Isabella Rossellini) to seek out one of his fellow comrades that fought with him. When Telemachus does find one of Odysseus’ comrades, he learns that they don’t know what happened to Odysseus.

When it comes to the latest year, Hermes arrives ends up telling Calypso to release Odysseus and she provides him with a raft to get to Ithica. Another storm causes problems for Odysseus as he shouts toward Poseidon. Poseidon ends up reminding Odysseus about what he said the day he left Troy. The next morning, Odysseus washes ashore and is found by some Phaeacians girls. With help from Phaeacian King Alcinous (Jeroen Krabbé), they help Odysseus back to Ithica. They deliver him at night while he is fast asleep, to a hidden harbor on Ithaca. Upon awakening the next morning, he finds himself on Ithica where he ends up reuniting with Telemachus. Using a peasant disguise provided by Athena, Odysseus meets up with Penelope where she decides to hold a contest which involves the person who can string Odysseus’ bow. After Odysseus wins the contest, Athena sheds his disguise and Odysseus is assisted by Telemachus into slaying the suitors. Once the suitors are dead, Odysseus reunites with Penelope.


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