Hercules Unchained

Hercules Unchained (Italian: Ercole e la regina di Lidia, "Hercules and the Queen of Lydia") is a 1959 Italian-French epic fantasy feature film starring Steve Reeves and Sylva Koscina in a story about two warring brothers and Hercules' tribulations in the court of Queen Omphale. The film is the sequel to the Reeves vehicle Hercules (1958) and marks Reeves' second - and last - appearance as Hercules. The film's screenplay, loosely based upon various Greek myths and plays by Aeschylus and Sophocles, was written by Ennio De Concini and Pietro Francisci with Francisci directing and Bruno Vailati and Ferruccio De Martino producing the film.

Hercules Unchained
(Ercole e la regina di Lidia)
Directed byPietro Francisci
Produced byBruno Vailati
Screenplay byEnnio De Concini
Pietro Francisci
Story byPietro Francisci
Based onOedipus at Colonus
by Sophocles
Seven Against Thebes
by Aeschylus
StarringSteve Reeves
Sylva Koscina
Primo Carnera
Sylvia Lopez
Music byEnzo Masetti
CinematographyMario Bava
Edited byMario Serandrei
Lux Film
Galatea Film
Lux Compagnie Cinématographique de France
Distributed byLux Film (Italy)
Warner Bros. (US)
Release date
  • 14 February 1959 (1959-02-14) (Italy)
  • 13 July 1960 (1960-07-13) (United States)
Running time
97 minutes[1]
Box office$2.5 million (US/Canada rentals)[4]


While travelling, Hercules is asked to intervene in a quarrel between two brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, over who should rule Thebes. Before he can complete this task, Hercules drinks from a magic spring and is hypnotized by a harem girl who dances the "Dance of Shiva", loses his memory and becomes the captive of Queen Omphale of Lydia. The Queen keeps men until she tires of them, then has them made into statues. While young Ulysses tries to help him regain his memory, Hercules' wife, Iole, finds herself in danger from Eteocles, current ruler of Thebes, who plans on throwing her to the wild beasts in his entertainment arena. Hercules slays three tigers in succession and rescues his wife, then assists the Theban army in repelling mercenary attackers hired by Polynices. The two brothers ultimately fight one another for the throne and end up killing each other; the good high priest Creon is elected by acclaim.



The tale of Hercules and Queen Omphale is taken from the ancient Greek myth, of which there are several variations throughout history. Character names are drawn from a mixture of various Greek legends and plays, notably The Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus and Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles. Hercules' line "I wove the threads [of my memory] together" is a reference to his task of spinning thread and weaving with Omphale's attendants. The film is only very loosely based on the source material, randomly mixing events and featuring characterizations varying from those depicted in the sources.


Film critic Howard Hughes argues that due to a better script, "punchier action" and more convincing acting the film was "superior to its predecessor" Hercules. Concerning the cast he praises in particular the French actress Sylvia Lopez ("movingly effective") whose career ended prematurely when in 1959, soon after finishing this film, she died at the age of 26 of leukemia.[5]

The film was the third most popular movie at the British box office in 1960.


Hercules Unchained has been broadcast on American television, and is available in both VHS and DVD formats. The film's Italian title means "Hercules and the Queen of Lydia". The film was also featured in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Comic book adaption

See also


  • Hughes, Howard (2011). Cinema Italiano - The Complete Guide From Classics To Cult. London - New York: I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84885-608-0.


  1. "HERCULES UNCHAINED (U)". British Board of Film Classification. 19 May 1960. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  2. Eder, Bruce. "Hercules Unchained". Allmovie. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  3. "Ercole e la regina di Lidia". BFI Film & Television Database. London: British Film Institute. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  4. "Rental Potentials of 1960", Variety, 4 January 1961 p 47. Please note figures are rentals as opposed to total gross.
  5. Hughes, p.4
  6. "Dell Four Color #1121". Grand Comics Database.
  7. Dell Four Color #1121 at the Comic Book DB (archived from the original)
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