Medea (1969) Script

You are five, and should hear the truth about yourself.

You are not my son and I did not find you in the sea.

All I have told you is a lie.

You are not a liar, but I love telling lies.

Are you sorry you are not my son?

Sorry I am neither your father nor mother?

It all began because of a ram, a divine, talking ram.

Hermes gave it to Nephele to save his children from Ino, daughter of Cadmus, who wanted to kill them.

Ino replaced Nephele as wife of King Athamas.

Ino had also been wife of Aeolus, father of Athamas.

In short, it was a question of jealousy. Well, this ram carried Phrixus, one of Nephele's sons, across the sea.

He was welcomed by King Aeёtes, the son of the sun.

The divine ram, whose fleece was of gold was sacrificed to Zeus.

The descendants of Aeolus tried to regain the Golden Fleece for it brought fortune to kings and perpetuated their realm.

But try as they might, they always failed.

They always failed.

Well, you are a descendant of Aeolus because you are a son of a son of that Athamas who was King of lolcus, a place near here, very rich in sheep and crops.

Your uncle Pelias imprisoned your father and seized the kingdom.

But I have kept you safe with me.

It is a complicated story, because it is full of deeds, not thoughts.

All is sacred.

There is nothing natural in nature, remember that.

When nature seems natural to you, all will be finished and something else will begin.

Farewell, sky. Farewell, sea.

A beautiful sky.

So close.

So benign.

Is a fragment of that sky unnatural, possessed by a god?

And the sea in which you fish barefoot on your thirteenth birthday?

Look behind you, what do you see?

Something natural?

All you see behind you is an apparition.

Mid-afternoon clouds reflected in the still water.

Look there, at that black streak on the sea, iridescent as oil.

Those shadows of trees, those reeds.

Wherever you glance, a god is hidden.

If he is absent, the signs of his sacred presence will be there, silence, smell of grass, cool, fresh water.

Yes, all is sacred, but holiness is also a curse.

The gods that love can also hate.

Perhaps I am too great a liar for you, or too much a poet.

But in the ancient world, myths and rituals are living reality.

Part of man's everyday life.

For him reality is such a perfect entity that the emotion he experiences at the sight of a tranquil sky

equals the most profound personal experience of modern man.

Reclaim your heritage from your uncle Pelias, usurper of your throne.

He will find some pretext to get rid of you, to recover the Golden Fleece from a distant land, for example.

There you will find a world which reasons differently from us.

Life there is very realistic, for mythical people are realistic, and realistic people are mythical.

This, at least, is predicted by our divine reason.

But it cannot predict the inevitable errors it will lead you to.

There will be many.

That which man, discovering agriculture, saw in grain, that which he understood from seeds that lose their form in the earth to be born again, all that has become the ultimate truth, the resurrection.

But the ultimate truth is no longer valid.

What you see in grain, in the growth of the seed, has lost all meaning for you like a discarded memory.

In fact, there is no god.


Give life to the seed and be reborn with the seed.


Wait for me.


Uncle, I have come to reclaim my kingdom.

You may have it if you undertake something for the public god.

What do you mean?

A symbol of the eternal nature of power and order, the golden fleece of a divine goat, is guarded in a distant land, across the sea, where no one has ventured.

Bring the fleece here, and I shall restore you your kingdom.


What beautiful horses. Let's take them.


Here you are. Pray for us.


Put on my vestments, I wish to pray.


Wake up, brother.

Come with me.

Where?

Come.


Help me steal the Fleece.


Who's there?

What's going on? A woman in a cart, and a golden fleece.

Prepare the horses.


This place will sink, because it has no foundation.

You do not call God's blessing on your tents.

You speak not to God, you do not seek the centre, you do not mark the centre.

Look for a tree, a post, a stone.


Speak to me, Earth, let me hear your voice.

I have forgotten your voice.

Speak to me, Sun.

Where must I stand to hear your voice?

Speak to me, Earth. Speak to me, Sun.

Are you losing your way, never to return again?

Grass, speak to me. Stone, speak to me.

Earth, where is your meaning? Where can I find you again?

Where is the bond that linked you to the Sun?

My feet touch earth, but I do not recognise it.

My eyes see the sun, but I do not recognise it.


Today you will have a surprise.

You will learn that a king is not obliged to honour a promise.

I assumed that, but take your fleece.

Symbol of "eternal power."

One thing it taught me, the world is greater than your kingdom.

And if you want my opinion, I think the fleece means nothing outside its own land.


The time of parting has come.


What are you doing here?

What are we doing here?

Is this a vision?

If it is, you created it, we are both within you.

I knew only one centaur.

No, you have known two.

A sacred one, when you were a boy.

A desecrated one, when you were a man.

But the sacred is preserved within the desecrated form.

Here we are, one beside the other.

But the old centaur, what of him, whom you seem to be saying you have replaced by taking him over?

His logic is so different from ours, you would find him incomprehensible.

But I can speak for him.

Despite all our schemes and interpretations his influence causes you to love Medea.

Love Medea?

Also you pity her, you understand her spiritual catastrophe.

A woman of an ancient world, confused in a world which ignores her beliefs.

She experienced the opposite of a conversion, and has never recovered.

What use is that knowledge to me?

None. It is reality.

Then why tell me all this?

Because nothing can prevent the old centaur from inspiring sentiments, or me, the new centaur, from expressing them.


Nurse, accompany me.

Where to?

To Corinth.

You must not.

Accompany me.


Mistress, why have you resigned yourself so easily?

What should I do? What do people say?

That in your own land you could work wonders, rule air and fire.

The people of Corinth say that, and they fear you.

Fear me?

Because you are a sorceress.

Forgive me but I say this in the hope of encouraging you.

To work magic.

I have been far from my land for over ten years.

You are still what you were.

No, I have become someone else, I have forgotten everything.

What was reality is no longer reality.

Perhaps, if you wanted, you could call on your God.

Perhaps you are right, I am still what I was.

A vessel for a wisdom which comes from outside myself.


Do you not recognise me?

Yes, you are the father of my father.

Go on, then. Why do you wait?

O God.

O justice dear to God.

O light of the Sun.

I shall have a splendid victory over my enemies.

I shall do what I must, I shall have a just revenge.

O God. O justice dear to God. O light of the Sun.

I shall send one of my women to summon Jason to me.

I shall be gentle with him, and say, "It is right that you marry the King's daughter.

"This marriage will be of great advantage to our sons."

O God. O justice dear to God. O light of the Sun.

Now you have told us of your intention, we wish to help, yet respect the most sacred human laws.

Any other course is impossible now.

You cannot approve, because you have not suffered the wrongs I have.

How will you find the courage to carry out your plan?

I shall find the courage when I think how great will be his suffering.

Yours will be no less, poor, desperate woman.

Enough, nurse.

It is time to act, this is but idle chatter.

Bring Jason to me, but tell him nothing of our plan.

You love me, even more, you are a woman.

In your old guise, Medea.

In your old guise.


Children, come.

At your wish, I am here. Have you news for me?


Take these vestments as a gift to Glauce for her wedding.

Tell her your mother wishes her no ill, only happiness.

Take your father's hand, he will lead you.

If you bear him ill feelings, set them aside as I have done.

We have made peace.

Come, children, take his hand.

I have a foreboding.

Dear children, have you still long to live and clasp your father's hand?

Look at me, all tears, distraught and fearful.

Just when I have determined to end this unworthy quarrel with your father, here I am crying.

Have no regrets, your anger with me is only human.

But wisdom has triumphed and you are mistress of yourself.

Children, your father has provided for your future.

With new brothers you will have pride of place in this city.

Why are you still crying?

Take no notice, woman is a weak creature that cries easily.

But promise me you will tell your bride to convince her father he must not banish the children.

I shall succeed.

Away, then, and if, as I hope, bright success is with you, you will return with the good news we await.


Our mother sends you this wedding gift.

She says she does not wish you ill, only happiness.

Mistress, do not accept that gift. Believe us.

Tell your mother that her gift gives me great joy.


Dress me.


What a lovely bridal gown.


Come with me.


Medea, I have sought you out.

Do not glower.

You're filled with hate for your husband, so you must leave this city with your children.

Immediately.

I am attending to your exile myself and I shall not return to my palace until you are driven from my realm.

But why my children, too?

I fear you. I say openly. I fear you for my daughter's sake.

Everyone knows you are a barbarian, a foreigner.

You are skilled in evil spells, you are different from us.

We do not want you among us.

But see how meagre my powers are.

And then, have you ever offended me?

Only he is guilty, my husband.

I have no complaint against you.

You are a just man.

Neither do I begrudge your happiness.

Let this marriage take place. Be of good heart.

I ask only one favour of you.

Do not exile me, let me stay.

I shall bow before one stronger than myself.

Gently said.

But it is impossible to plumb the depths of a soul.

That is true, very true.

Give me a day's respite, to prepare for my exile.

I must think how to feed my children, abandoned by their father.

In truth, I am not a tyrant by nature.

My soft heart has often been my undoing.

I feel it is a mistake, but I will grant your wish.

In truth, I am not banishing you because of hate, or suspicion, because you are different, a barbarian, come here with the imprint of another race upon you, but, rather, out of my love for my daughter, who is sorry for you.

She knows you are suffering, and she suffers, too.

This marriage with Jason has become the source of anything but happiness.

You are blameless, but my daughter must not suffer.

Therefore, harsh as it may seem, I must drive you from my realm.


Dear nurse, please go and summon Jason.


My right hand, clasped so often in yours.

My knees, embraced so many times by this despicable man, who owes all to me, yet I have lost all hope in him.

What have you to regret?

It is time you realised I owe all my success to myself.

If you did anything for me, it was for love of my body.

Am I ungrateful?

Perhaps I did not make much effort but I have given you far more than I have received.

Do not boast about it.

You sent for me.

I will listen to you, even if you hate me now.

Have you anything new to tell me?

No. I only wanted you to forgive me.

I know friendless exile awaits me, all else is useless now.

I have been unjust, and you have done as you should.

Forgive you? Very well.

That is all I wanted of you. Thank you. Good-bye.


Children, come.


Take these vestments as a gift to Glauce for her wedding.

Tell her your mother does not wish her ill, only happiness.

Take your father's hand, he will lead you.

If you bear him ill feelings, set them aside as I have done.

We have made peace.

Go on, take his hand.

I have a foreboding.

Dear children, have you still long to live and clasp your father's hand?

Look at me, all tears, distraught and fearful.

Just when I have determined to end this unworthy quarrel with your father, here I am crying.

Your anger with me is only human.

Children, your father has provided for your future.

With your new brothers you will have pride of place in this city.

Why are you still crying?

Take no notice, woman is a weak creature that cries easily.

But promise me you will tell your bride to convince her father he must not banish the children.

I shall succeed.

Away, then, and if, as I hope, good luck is with you, you will return with the good news we await.


Our mother sends you this wedding gift.

She says she does not wish you ill, only happiness.

Tell your mother that her gift gives me great joy.


Come, it is time to sleep.

Let me stay a little longer, mother. Be good, come along.


Be good now.

All done.

Such a good boy. It's bedtime now.


Come on.

Let mother carry you.


Come on, let's go.


Sit down.


Be a good boy and sleep.

Go to sleep.


Why are you trying to cross the fire? You cannot.

You can speak to me, but you cannot touch me.

What have you done?

Will you not suffer with me?

As long as you suffer, I want to suffer.

Your God will condemn you.

What do you want of me?

Let me bury my sons.

You? Turn back and bury your wife.

I will, but not without my two sons.

Your tears are nothing now, wait till you are old.

In your God's name, let me touch those innocent bodies once more.

No, do not ask again, it is useless.

Nothing more is possible, ever.