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10 Movies Stolen Right Out of The Odyssey

From SpongeBob to Apocalypse Now, here are a few films with unexpected roots in classical poetry.

by
Spencer Klavan

Bio

August 6, 2014 - 7:00 am
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Homer’s epic poem about homecoming and adventure, The Odyssey, is one of the great action stories of all time. For the ancient Greeks it had the same white-knuckle thrills and intensity as Die Hard. It’s also a pillar of the Western canon, and its influence is so pervasive that it gets copied and replicated in every corner of pop culture almost without our noticing.

1. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie

As the great EveryMan (EverySponge?) of our time, SpongeBob was destined to reinvent Odysseus’ archetypal hero quest for a new generation. On his journey to rescue Bikini Bottom from the evil Plankton, Spongebob battles a giant “cyclops” (a deep-sea diver), makes a royal mess out of a magic bag of wind, and negotiates a nasty vendetta from the sea-god, Neptune. That’s all lifted right out of books 9, 10, and 11 of the Odyssey. Legend has it Homer strongly considered opening with, “Tell me, muse, / Who is the man who lives in a pineapple / Under the sea?”

Top Rated Comments   
See also (obvious example) 2001, wherein a "Bowman" goes on an long journey and battles a creature shown with one eye (HAL) and (not so obvious example) The Warriors (1979), wherein the protagonists are trying to get back to their home island and their journey is complicated by a strange woman. (heh. Odysseus, come out and pla-ay....)
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (10)
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Another candidate, which I have yet to see, but whose IMdb description make it a very good candidate is The Unchained. It was a minor movie about the return home of a small time criminal after serving his time, and the difficulties and temptations on his way home. Never heard of it? Well, it was blessed with one of the greatest theme songs of the twentieth century: The Unchained Melody. The aching of Odysseus for Penelope has never been better captured in a lyric.
3 days ago
3 days ago Link To Comment
The Warriors is an adaptation of Xenophon's Anabasis
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Warriors is actually an adaptation of Xenophon's Anabasis.
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
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5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
Do not dis the Cyclops from Sinbad. 7th voyage is awesome.
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
Another good example, though in reverse, would be "The Swimmer", starring Burt Lancaster. A man formerly successful in business, love and social life wanders home and encounters rejection at every turn, ultimately including his wife. Ulysses, you're not king anymore.
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
That jogged a thought. Anyone consider that the TV series The Amazing Race might fit into this theme? And for that matter, Around the World in 80 Days....
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nepotism!
I love it!
Because what PJ Media really needs is more lists...
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
See also (obvious example) 2001, wherein a "Bowman" goes on an long journey and battles a creature shown with one eye (HAL) and (not so obvious example) The Warriors (1979), wherein the protagonists are trying to get back to their home island and their journey is complicated by a strange woman. (heh. Odysseus, come out and pla-ay....)
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, now... uhm. You see... err.

Sorry, I cannot come up with a coherent comment for this one. I really can't tell whether this is a med maladjustment or somebody needs to take the Klavan DVD player away for a few months while he returns to reality.
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
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