L'Odissea was a European TV miniseries broadcast on RAI (Italian state TV) in 1968 and based on Homer's Odyssey. An Italian, Yugoslavian, German and French (Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française) coproduction, it was directed by Franco Rossi,[1] assisted by Piero Schivazappa and Mario Bava; the cast included Bekim Fehmiu as Ulysses and Irene Papas as Penelope, Samson Burke as the Cyclops, as well as Barbara Bach as Nausicaa, and Gerard Herter (of Caltiki fame). The movie is considered by several critics a masterpiece representation of the ancient world.[2]

L'Odissea/The Odyssey (TV-series)
GenreMythology, Adventure
Created byMario Bava, Franco Rossi
Written bybased on
Homer's epic poem
Directed byFranco Rossi, Mario Bava
Presented byGiuseppe Ungaretti
StarringBekim Fehmiu
Irene Papas
Composer(s)Carlo Rustichelli
Country of originItaly
No. of episodes4-8
Executive producer(s)Vittorio Bonicelli
Producer(s)Dino de Laurentiis
Production location(s)Italy
Running time446 minutes
110 minutes (cut edition)
Picture formatColor
Original release24 March 1968 (RAI)


The movie was produced principally for broadcasting on the state televisions of Italy, Germany and France.[3] There were 8 episodes in the original version, running a total of 446 minutes. Each episode was preceded by an introduction in which poet Giuseppe Ungaretti read some verses of the original poem.[4]

The adaptation is considered to be the most faithful rendering of Homer's epic on screen,[5] by including most of the characters and events, as well as by attempting to fill with graphic details.[6]

Special effects were designed by Mario Bava (who outright directed the Polyphemus episode)[7] and Carlo Rambaldi.[1]

The outdoors were shot entirely in Yugoslavia, which offered a scenery that was very similar to the lands of Ancient Greece.[8]

The show ran on television in Europe between 1968 and 1970. In Italy alone, the episodes had an audience of over 16 million viewers. The entire television series was dubbed into English, ran several times on the TVO network in Ontario, Canada, and was broadcast in the USA by CBS years later in 1978. An abridged theatrical version (running only 110 minutes) was released to European theatres as well, also available in English. However, the English dub was later lost. There are DVD editions however still available in Italian and German.


First episode: Telemaco and Penelope

Athena, happy that King Ulysses is close to returning to his native island Ithaca, located to the west of Greece, under the guise of King Mind, arrives in Ithaca to make sure that Ulysses' return is pleasant. Unfortunately it is not so: although welcomed with respect by the twenty year old Prince Telemachus, Mind discovers that the palace of the king of Ithaca is besieged by numerous arrogant nobles of the region, the suitors, who anxiously wait for Queen Penelope to decide to take a new husband between them, supposing that Ulysses died since twenty years have passed since his departure for Troy, looting without reserve the cellar and the pantry of the palace. Penelope tries to take time by declaring to the processors that she must weave a canvas in honor of her father-in-law Laertes, but with this pretext every night she undoes it and starts it again the next morning.


Telemachus, at the suggestion of Mente (who disappears as he came), announces a town meeting to be able to know who is on his side to be able to chase away the suitors and who is willing to follow him on the land to ask for information about Ulysses to King Nestor, the oldest commander who participated in the war. The assembly also arrives at the assembly, claiming to be right in the king's long absence and the fact that Penelope is spending too much time weaving the web. To these answers, the people of Ica are silent and dare not oppose, yet the soothsayer Egizio, noting a hawk perched on the battlements of the palace, sees the success of Telemachus' journey, but is derided by the suitors. The next morning, Telemachus is joined by the master Mentor (again Athena in disguise) and gives him a boat and sailors to get to Pilo, by Nestor. Before leaving, Telemachus asks the nurse Anticlea not to say anything to Penelope. During the night, Melanto, the young servant of the palace loyal to the suitors, makes them sneak inside to show them what happens to Penelope's canvas at night. Discovery, Penelope is forced to finish the shroud without apology.

The next day, the suitors noticed the absence of Telemachus and discovered, threatening a boat seller, that he really started to look for news about his father. Concerned that his research is successful, Antinoo, chief of staff, suggests an ambush by Telemachus. Arriving in Pilo in the middle of a sacrificial ceremony at Poseidon, Telemachus joins the king after the ceremony. Nestor tells Telemachus of the evening before he returns from Troy: there were those who, like Ulysses, wanted to punish the allies of the Trojans and those like Menelaus who wanted to go home; after several discussions, the Achaean fleet separated and Nestor no longer knew about Ulysses, so he advised Telemachus to go to Sparta, to Menelaus, with his son Pisistratus, who would guide him. Medonte, the wine bearer, on hearing the suitors, runs to warn Penelope that, after a moment of anger at Anticela for not having told her anything, she prays for the safety of her son. Arriving in Pilo in the middle of a sacrificial ceremony at Poseidon, Telemachus joins the king after the ceremony. Nestor tells Telemachus of the evening before he returns from Troy: there were those who, like Ulysses, wanted to punish the allies of the Trojans and those like Menelaus who wanted to go home; after several discussions, the Achaean fleet separated and Nestor no longer knew about Ulysses, so he advised Telemachus to go to Sparta, to Menelaus, with his son Pisistratus, who would guide him.

At night, Penelope receives in a dream Athena's visit, under the guise of her sister Iftime, who assures her that the gods watch over her son and also about Ulysses. Finally the figure of Ulysses is presented: a lonely man at the head of a miserable raft at the mercy of the waves that move him away from his final destination.

Second episode: Ulysses, Nausicaa and Calipso

At the beginning of the second episode there is a discussion between Zeus and Athena in which the two agree that Poseidon has tortured Ulysses enough and that it is time for his suffering to end. Ulysses is shipwrecked on an island and, having found a refuge, faints. The island in which Ulysses happened is Scheria, governed by the Phaeacians, and Athena arrives in a dream to the young princess Nausicaa, in the guise of a distant friend and enters the dreams of the girl, telling her that she should prepare herself for her now near marriage and go with the maids to the mouth of the river to do the laundry. The next day Nausicaa goes to the mouth and after doing the laundry, the princess starts to play with the maids, when she sees in the bushes a dirty man, torn and full of salt and leaves with which he was built the couch. All the girls run away except for Nausicaa, who is staring in astonishment at the desperate man. Ulysses also remains somewhat captivated by the beauty of the girl and compares her to a goddess, then begging her to take him with her to the palace to clean up the debris of the waters.

The meeting between Ulysses and Nausicaa As ordered by the goddess and also by her heart, Nausicaa had it washed and dressed by the maids, but she asked that, out of discretion, she did not follow him to the palace, or the young people would believe he had chosen him as a husband. Accepting the wishes of the girl, Ulysses goes alone to the church, while an internal voice (Athena) suggests to him how to behave in front of the sovereigns: Alcinoo and Arete. The nobles and monarchs of the palace, suspicious of all the foreigners who come to their land, fill him with questions, only to apologize for their abrupt and gruff interrogation, after they recognize in the hero a good man with nothing to hide. In reality, in order not to cause a sensation, Ulysses pretended to be a poor merchant in search of protection. Long ago Alcinoo tells that his people, ruled by his grandfather, resided in the Land of the Cyclops, monstrous and violent beings, who continually disturbed their lives; so they decided to move with the help of the gods to a new island, paying them the price of being unknown to any traveler, except Ulysses.

Hosted in the palace, Ulysses knows that the Phaeacians are peaceful and that they know how to build boats that never sink and never get lost but have stopped building them worried about a prophecy: Poseidon, their protector, would have punished the Phaeacians by destroying the crew of the ship that will accompany an enemy on board. Ulysses, meanwhile, spends a lot of time with Nausicaa, telling her that until a few weeks ago he had been a prisoner in Ogigia for seven years, an islet in which the beautiful nymph Calipso is exiled, to whom Ulysses mentally resisted, until ordered by the gods , she didn't allow him to go on a raft. A few days later, Odysseus is invited to see the games that will decree a husband for Nausicaa. The champion, therefore, asks the guest to participate in the sword contests, but Ulysses refuses to be refused, at least until the athletes question his strength, making Ulysses angry that not only beats all the participants but also risks to kill one.

Sorry, Ulysses asks Alcinoo for forgiveness, but he demands more to know his name than to hear his apologies.



  1. Milly Buonanno (2012). Italian TV Drama and Beyond: Stories from the Soil, Stories from the Sea. Intellect Books. pp. 37–. ISBN 978-1-84150-459-9.
  2. Arthur J. Pomeroy (1 June 2017). A Companion to Ancient Greece and Rome on Screen. Wiley. pp. 341–. ISBN 978-1-118-74144-3.
  3. Eleonora Cavallini (2007). Omero mediatico: aspetti della ricezione omerica nella civiltà contemporanea : atti delle giornate di studio, Ravenna, 18-19 gennaio 2006. D. U. Press. ISBN 978-88-95451-05-3.
  4. Emerico Giachery (2012). Ungaretti e il mito. Edizioni Nuova Cultura. pp. 26–. ISBN 978-88-6134-973-5.
  5. Helen Lovatt; Caroline Vout (15 August 2013). Epic Visions: Visuality in Greek and Latin Epic and its Reception. Cambridge University Press. pp. 170–. ISBN 978-1-316-26499-7.
  6. Almut-Barbara Renger; Jon Solomon (13 November 2012). Ancient Worlds in Film and Television: Gender and Politics. BRILL. pp. 205–. ISBN 978-90-04-24192-3.
  7. Troy Howarth (2002). The Haunted World of Mario Bava. BearManor Media. pp. 325–. GGKEY:X5Q62N9EWKC.
  8. Lupi, Giordano (16 October 2016). "Odissea – Le avventure di Ulisse (Film Tv, 1969)". Futuro Europa. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
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