The film Hercules Unchained (1959) is often reviled as a cheesy sword-and-sandal film, incapable of being rehabilitated. "Hercules Unchained: Contaminatio, Nostos, Katabasis and the Surreal" argues that, despite the banality of the film, the sum of its various parts presents a coherent and suggestive narrative whose bizarre articulation parallels, albeit unwittingly, the absurdist productions of the post-WWI Surrealists. The fantastically grotesque and literarily impossible combination of Hercules, Ulysses, and Oedipus ultimately resolves, mirabile dictu, in the theme of loss of identity. Set within a context of coming home from war, this extraordinarily kitsch "descent into hell" offered its contemporary audience a looking-glass reflection of the anxieties of the soldiers who were still coming home from WWII and Korea.


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pp. 51-66
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