Who the hell is Hades? An examination of Hades' reception within modern film
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AbstractThis thesis seeks to engage with modern receptions of Hades, the ancient god of the underworld, within the medium of film. Although reception studies encompasses a broad variety of themes and subject matters, filmic characterisation (especially that of a deity) is presently an under-represented topic. Hades’ unique persona provides further incentive for this study; not only does he hold an ambiguous position within antiquity but this is similarly echoed throughout much of Hollywood’s own history, up until the turn of the 21st century. Hades’ filmic persona has, however, received a revitalisation within modern blockbusters which draw their inspiration from ancient Greek mythology. With prominent appearances in the likes of Disney’s Hercules (1997), Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (2010), Clash of the Titans (2010) and Wrath of the Titans (2012), Hades has now become a staple character within the film industry. Hades’ recent stardom is not without issues. It appears that mass culture has freely refashioned Hades’ mythic persona in order to better fit a particular cinematic presentation, epitomised by Hades’ association with the Judeo-Christian Devil. I will argue, however, that the figure which has resulted does not have to be viewed as marking a rupture with classical thought but should be seen rather as a continuation of Greek mythological concerns. While this suggestion, following Martin Winkler’s theory of neo-mythologism, is not particularly original, I seek to explore it in an entirely new manner, highlighting the iconographical and narrative tropes which define Hades’ filmic persona. This requires a unique approach, one not yet found within contemporary scholarship. In drawing upon modern film theory for inspiration, this thesis seeks to engage with Hades’ reception while letting the medium in question shape the methodology. Such considerations should be fundamental to reception studies.