This vintage Italian production of Ulysses is best enjoyed as Homeric adventure for kids. While The Odyssey is handled with admirable fidelity, you may suppress a chuckle when Kirk Douglas, as the titular Greek hero, speak... more »s English and Italian, dubbing himself in English! Looking like a Spartacus wannabe, Douglas brings appropriate gravity to his classically mythic exploits. Having sacked Troy, Ulysses and his stalwart crew set sail for Ithaca, only to be delayed for a decade by such epic distractions as a giant Cyclops (a memorable highlight), the madness-inducing Sirens, and the deceptive Circe, who turns men into swine. Meanwhile, Ulysses's loyal wife Penelope (Silvana Mangano) is being wooed by suitors (including Anthony Quinn, fresh from Fellini's La Strada), making Ulysses's homecoming an urgent necessity. Resembling a Ray Harryhausen fantasy without "dynamation," this ambitious film boasts impressive special effects (for its time), and the kind of lavish sets and costumes that were once an Italian specialty. --Jeff Shannon« less
D. Desaulniers | Sillery, Québec, Canada | 07/09/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I fully agree with Mr Forsythe from London (Ontario). If like Mr Maitlin, you judge this movie with the special effects of the 1999, the movie is hokey. But the character, dedication and courage of Ulysse has never been so well portrayed as by Kirk Douglas. Sylvana Mangano doesn't do much, but she portrayed only too well why a man will fight 20 years to return to her and their son. Anthony Quinn gives a fine performance as the suitor. The recent version with Armand Assante, while proficient in special effects, doesn't exploit the richness of characters showned in the multi-european film. I have seen this movie in the 1960 and again this year. It is the same emotion and commitment. This is Homer's Odyssey. If you have not seen this movie, get your hand on the vidéo. This is a film I would gladly buy in VideoLaser disc or the new DVD. It is worth the money."
Great Classic Film, Horrible DVD Transfer
Alexander M. Walker | Chicago, IL USA | 08/12/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The word `epic' has become an overused adjective in these modern times, used to describe anything great or awesome. At its simplest definition, that use isn't incorrect, but it's not as correct as when used to describe a story charting the journeys of a hero like Odysseus (Ulysses) or Gilgamesh. But when the dust settles, Ulysses may lay claim to the title of the definitive epic. Homer's celebrated retelling of Ulysses's voyage home following the events of the Trojan War (as told of in the Iliad) has had countless film, stage and novel incarnations. Of particular note is Mario Camerini's 1954 version which captures perfectly the feel and style of the adventure serials of its time - but not without its share of shortcomings.
Ulysses (Kirk Douglas) leads his soldiers back towards their homeland of Ithaca only to find their passage rife with deadly obstacles and treacherous enemies. Presenting allegories on prudence, temptation and other values, the story of the homeward bound adventurers manages to play out in a way that keeps the audience interested with top-tier class performances amidst campy scenery and effects (most likely considered quite impressive in their time). Awaiting Ulysses in Ithaca are his wife Penelope (Silvana Mangano) - and the countless men (including Antinous as played by Anthony Quinn) seeking to be her suitor since learning of the hero's supposed death at sea/in battle/etc. Who hasn't heard the tale of the mythical sirens luring sailors to their doom on rocky shores? Many popular elements of Greek mythology make appearances in Ulysses's tale, and it's a testament to the strength of the ancient tale that even with cinematography issues, the film seems to fly by.
The entire film is a sweet reminder of old time adventure flicks which concerned themselves more with the story than its presentation. The slew of veteran actors smattering the screen makes the experience memorable. Before Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis, the man to hire when action was called for was Kirk Douglas. To a lesser extent than John Wayne, Douglas was a film icon of manhood - the Duke may have capitalized on the title, but Douglas was equally deserving in the roles he took. When Kirk took on the lead-role in Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus, he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt what he introduced in Ulysses: the man is a dynamo of charisma and testosterone. As Ulysses, Douglas carries the film on his back with a cocksure attitude that makes his character a charismatic leader and yet easy to scorn as he learns the lessons of his journey.
Now, as easy as it is to lavish such a classic cinematic tale with praise, the technical aspects of the film and its DVD transition leave so much to be desired as to make it nigh impossible to recommend this DVD release. The audio dubbing on the film is utterly atrocious with dialogue seldom matching up with the lips of actors onscreen. At times too little is said to accompany the lip movement, and at others not a single mouth moves as a character relates the current peril of the crew. How the DVD's audio could be authored so poorly will flabbergast the seasoned DVD consumer. There have been plenty of old films whose DVD transfers have gone without a hitch, but Ulysses is almost insufferable. Sadly, the video isn't much better. I'm left thinking that the negative must have been destroyed or degraded to a point where it's unusable in future reproduction because - and I mean this is no uncertain terms - after watching this copy no one will question that a new digital copy needs to be made of the negatives. At times the picture will fluctuate as if it will burst out of its frame at any moment, and at others flickers of dirt and bad celluloid are easily visible.
What possessed Lionsgate to release such an ill-prepared DVD copy of such a classic film?
DVD Extra Features:
There's nothing, but considering the picture and audio quality of the film itself, you shouldn't be surprised that further work wasn't put into extras."
Kirk Has a Hard Time Getting Home...
Linda McDonnell | Brooklyn, U.S.A | 10/16/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"...and that's putting it mildly! Here Kirk is playing the Greek general Ulysses who spends twenty years away from the bosom of his family, ten at the Trojan War and ten on an ill-fated voyage back to Ithaca.Now, when I first came across my brothers watching this video, I couldn't believe my eyes that Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn were in such a cheap-looking movie! Nobody else is an actor or actress of any standing, and the production values are not up to Hollywood standards. Most distressing of all, everyone's dubbed in, including Kirk! Once I had gotten over all these obstacles, though, I was able to enjoy the movie. Ulysses' adventures are recounted as a flashback as he recuperates from amnesia in a strange kingdom. We see him outwit the Cyclops, go mad from the siren's song, and lose all track of time while being enchanted by Circe. Intersperced with Ulysses' strivings are scenes back at Ithaca, where Penelope has all she can do to hold onto her absent husband's throne from would-be usurpers vying for her hand. A new suitor emerges from the pack, played by Anthony Quinn, and he, like Kirk, plays his role straight despite the film's other limitations. The VERY end, AFTER all the bloodshed in the banquet hall, seems to end abruptly with Kirk and Penelope talking very fast off screen about how they have to make up for lost time. That looks a little, "We have to give the cameras back, so let's end it now."Still in all, "Ulysses" will entertain you if you let it; it did wonders for me, my brothers, and a two-year-old who wandered into the room and found the Cyclops really exciting."
Not the classic I remembered...
Peter Prainito | Lombard, IL USA | 04/11/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As a child I thought "Ulysses" was a great movie. So was my opinion of the original Godzilla, and Rodan, etc. Sadly, after ordering the DVD, I quickly realized that a child sees things through different eyes than does an adult. The cyclops scene was the only excitement worth noting (despite a terrible makeup job on the cyclops). The film is basicaly a big letdown. The sound and picture quality are very poor; a lot of static in the sound and a picture that sorely needs to be remastered and cleaned up. The film offers 3 language choices (English, Italian, and French) but there are no subtitle options or extras. For the selling price "Ulysses" might not be a terrible film, but it isn't the classic that I remember it being either. Buy it if you must, but you were forewarned."
DO NOT BUY THIS RIP-OFF
R. C. Walker | Encinitas CA, United States | 07/23/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This film is, in itself, worth 4 or 5 stars, no doubt. This version is deserving of less than 1. This is a mutilated, butchered copy that deserves only the fire. Ulysses is one of the earliest widescreen films made (1l66:1) and deserves to be preserved as such. What you're being offered is a hacked-up "full" screen mess (1.33:1). The term "full" screen is a marketing ploy, a lie to deceive consumers. The FULL screen is whatever the director made in the first place. Until a full widescreen copy of Ulysses appear, avoid this travesty like the plague."