Oedipus Rex (1967) - full transcript

In pre-war Italy, a young couple have a baby boy. The father, however, is jealous of his son - and the scene moves to antiquity, where the baby is taken into the desert to be killed. He is rescued, given the name Edipo (Oedipus), and brought up by the King and Queen of Corinth as their son. One day an oracle informs Edipo that he is destined to kill his father and marry his mother. Horrified, he flees Corinth and his supposed parents - only to get into a fight and kill an older man on the road...


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How beautiful the lady is.

- Good morning.
- Hello.

- How are you? Hello.
- Fine.

You're here to take
my place in the world,

send me back into the void,

and rob me of all I have.

Come along, ma'am.

She'll be the first
thing you steal from me,

she, the woman I love...

You already steal her love!

He's asleep.

Let's go.

Stop it.


What swollen little
feet! Tied up so tight.

Don't cry, don't cry.

- What have you brought me?
- He was alone on Mount Cithaeron.

- Son of Fortune.
- I found him there.

He was crying, so I brought
him here, thinking you...

Give him to me, idiot!

Son of Fortune.

See him? He squeals like a goat.

This Son of Fortune shall
be King of Corinth one day.


Queen, look!

The king! The king!

- Queen!
- The king!

The king! The king!

Queen, look what I have!

A gift from the gods!

He's cute, his eyes look like stars.

A gift from the gods!

Why this look, so sad
and grave? Laugh, instead!

Give thanks to the gods.
We have found a son today.

Give him to me. How you hold
him! Do you want to kill him?

Without the slightest delicacy.

Come, Little Swollen Feet.

Little Oedipus, my son.

I won!

I won! Crown me!

I won!

Oedipus kicked the disc ahead.

You can see the mark in the dust!


Son of Fortune! False son
of your father and mother!


I had a bad dream, but
I don't remember it.

I woke up crying and trembling in
the dark, like when I was a child.

The gods meant to tell me something.

But what if I don't remember,
if I can't remember it?

I lay awake with chills till dawn came,

afraid of the silence and the darkness.

Mother, Father, I'd like to go to Delphi

to ask the Oracle of
Apollo about my dream,

about what I can't remember.

Of course, my son.

All make a pilgrimage at least once
in their life to Apollo's shrine,

rich and poor to ask about their dreams,

and you haven't gone yet.

It's beautiful there.

I went there with your
father when I was young.

Didn't I? Do you remember?

It's a real feast, better than ours.

Very well.

If you want to go, then go.

You'll have an incomparable escort.

- No, Father. I want to go alone.
- But...

Yes, of course. Our son is right.

The gods don't care for
display, they want sincerity.

When will you leave?

- Tomorrow at dawn.
- So soon? At once?

Why should I wait?

I don't want that dream to
come and torment me again.

Don't cry. I'll be back in a few days.

Goodbye, son.

Goodbye, Little Swollen Feet.

Goodbye, Father. Goodbye, Mother.


In your fate it's written
you shall kill your father

and make love with your mother.

You understand? It's
written in your fate.

You shall kill your father
and make love with your mother.

This says the god, and it
will surely come to pass.

Now go away.

Don't taint these people
with your presence.

Where are you going, my youth?
Where are you going, my life?

Out of the way!

Out of my way, beggar!

Get out of the way!

Off the road! Watch out!

Boy, what happened?

Why are all these people
leaving the city...

...and camping here
like a tribe of gypsies?

Do you know?

Of course I know. I'm the
messenger, I bring the news.

I have to know.


Come with me.

That's Tiresias, the prophet.

Your brothers and fellows suffer, weep,

searching for salvation...

And you're here alone,
blind and singing...

I wish I were you! You
sing what's beyond destiny.

Our city's misfortune is up there.

It came up from a deep
abyss to frighten us.

We were all doing fine before.

Who could have imagined that?

Nobody dares drive it back to the abyss,

even though the man who
does will marry Jocasta,

the queen of Thebes.

And so our city's lost.

Everyone's leaving.
There's no point in staying.

Where are you going?

Don't go! It's no use!

You'll die.

Come back! What are you doing?

Come back!

There's an enigma in
your life. What is it?

I don't know. I don't want to know.

It's useless.

I don't want to see you.

I don't want to see you.
I don't want to hear you!

It's useless. The abyss where
you're thrusting me is inside you.

The sphinx is dead!

Come! Come!

The sphinx is dead!

The sphinx is gone!

Come to Creon! Come to the queen!

Whoever kills the sphinx becomes
the queen's husband! I told you!

You'll be king!


There she is.

My love.

These boys and I are
here to beseech you,

not because we look upon you as a god.

When you came here,

didn't you rid us of the sphinx?

You didn't perform this act
because you were wiser than us,

but rather with the help of a god.

Therefore Oedipus, our king,
we beg you on our knees,

find a solution, it doesn't matter what,

whether prompted by a god or a man.

You who are the best among us,

give life back to us.

Don't let your reign be remembered

because you raised us up

and then let us fall again.

I am aware of the wishes you bring,

oh, unfortunate citizens.

I know how you suffer,

but no one suffers more than I.

Because your sorrow
touches one of you alone,

while mine is the sorrow
of all, mine and yours.

You haven't awakened me.

I was not sleeping, I was crying,

seeking ways to escape my thoughts.

There is only one course.

I have taken it.

I have sent my brother-in-law
Creon to Apollo's shrine

to learn what to do.

And having counted the
time since Creon left,

I am anxious.

What's he doing?

Why is he so late? Why
hasn't he returned yet?

Creon is here. He's at the city gates.

God, may he bring us
a fate of salvation!

Creon, my
brother-in-law, my friend!

What is the answer?

Good news!

Even the most horrid
things can end well.

But the answer. We want the answer.

Shall I tell it before all
or alone inside the house?

Before all.

I suffer for them.

This is what I heard from the god.

"To defeat the disease
which plagues Thebes,

"the man who spread it
must leave the town."

What is he charged with?
What can his sentence be?

Death or exile.

A murder is the cause
of what?s happening here.

Who might the victim be?

Before you, the king was Laius.

So I was told.

I never met him.

He is the victim. The gods want
his murderer to be punished.

How can we find him?

Where can we find the traces of a
crime which took place so long ago?

Here, the god said.


And he added,

"What we don't want
to know does not exist,

"but what we want to know...


Was Laius killed in the palace?

In the country? Abroad?

He was going to Apollo's shrine...

...and he never returned.

No guard or travelling
companion witnessed the murder?

Only one escaped.

And he reported one thing.

What? From one thing
others can be deduced.

Yes, there were rumours.

What rumours? I want to know everything.

That he wasn't killed by
bandits but by a wayfarer.

Who could prove it?

The only living witness.

Frighten him, and he'll speak.

These are my decisions.

As your king I command

that whoever knows
who killed Laius speak,

even if he knows he'd accuse himself.

If those who know don't speak,

I forbid the men of this
nation which now is mine

to welcome him and pray with him.

I shall avenge the slain
king as if he were my father.

Now that his power has passed to me,

and his possessions
and his wife are mine.

My love.

Tiresias! You're here!

I have sent for you, and from you


How terrible knowledge is,

when to know is useless
to him who knows.

I knew, but I preferred to forget.

Otherwise I wouldn't have come here.

What's wrong? What frightens you?

Let me go home.

I beg you, listen to me.

The burden will be lighter for us both.

No. To speak to the city is your duty.

Your words are of no
use even to yourself.

Stay, in God's name! You know!

We all beseech you, my citizens and I.

You're mad.

I won't speak. I won't
reveal your crime.

You know and you keep silent!

Do you want to betray us?
You want to ruin our town?

You have a heart of stone!

You reproach me,

you blame my nature...

...and don't want to
judge your own nature.

Who wouldn't be offended?

Your words are insulting,
to the king and this town.

Facts will speak...

...even if I say nothing.

Therefore speak!

I've said too much.

- Be as angry as you wish.
- Yes?

Then you should know what I think.

I think that you plotted the crime!

Were you not blind, you would
have done it with your hands.

This is what you think?

Then I say...

obey your own judgement,

and beware of remaining here
among us from this moment on.

You're the guilty one
who infects our land.

I'll tell you again.

You're the murderer you're seeking.

And you do not know of your wicked bond

with the people dearest to you.

And you refuse to see
the evil in yourself.

You will not escape your words unharmed!

I'm already safe.

I have the truth on my side.

The truth for everyone but you,

with blind eyes, ears, and mind!

Unhappy man!

You insult me

as everybody will insult
you in a short time.

Who's responsible for
these lies, you or Creon?

Oh, wealth! Oh, power!

What envy you arouse in this human
life that is nothing but a struggle!

Thanks to the power
I received as a gift,

power that was unasked for.

Even the faithful Creon
wants to overthrow me.

Creon, yes, wants to take my place

sending this charlatan,

this beggar who can see only
when he can earn something,

and is blind in his art.

Even if you are the king,

I can reply as frankly as you...

...if I wish to.

I am subject only to God.

And since, before all
and in God's presence

you have mocked my
blindness and my old age,

I say this to you.

You look

and do not see the shame
and evil in which you are.

Do you know who gave you life?

Do you know that your kind,
living and dead, curse you?

One day you will see only darkness.

How you'll cry out then,

the day when you finally understand

how, and with whom you were married.

Son of Fortune!

And I have to put up with you
addressing me like this? I would leave.

Leave at once!

What are you waiting for?

Leave! Out of my sight!

I don't want to hear you!

If I'm here it's because you called me.

I'd never have done it

if I thought I'd hear such nonsense.

This, you see, is our fate.

We are mad in your eyes.

We are wise for those who begot you.

What do you mean? Who begot me?

Let us go.

Lead me.

Yes, go away and disappear.

And with you goes my torment.

I shall leave.

But only when I've
said all I have to say.


The man you are seeking...

...with threats and orders,

is here, a foreigner as all believe...

...yet he is from Thebes.

But he'll not rejoice in this discovery,

because, having become a blind beggar,

he'll wander through foreign lands...

...like me, wretched flute-player.

It will be known

that he is at once brother
and father of his children,

son and husband of his mother.

That he has slept with the
woman who was his father's.

And that he, he alone,
is his father's murderer.

Oedipus refuses to recognise his crime,

and he puts the blame
on me and his people.

Oh, look! Why have you come here?

How dare you turn up at my house?

You, who want to get rid
of me and seize my kingdom?

You've come because you think
I'm a coward and a madman?

I've got power and
the people on my side.

You have nothing.

Don't say you're innocent,
without evil intentions towards me.

You suggested that I question Tiresias.

- How long ago was Laius...
- Laius...

Was Laius killed without a trace?

A long time ago.

And Tiresias? Did he
utter no prophecies?

Yes, winning the respect of everyone.

He didn't mention me, by
chance, in his prophecies?

In my presence, never.


into the death of Laius, your
king, you made no inquiries?

Surely, but in vain.

In this case, why did
Tiresias not say anything?

- I don't know.
- Really?

And you don't know that you two agree

when he says I'm the
murderer we are seeking?

You tell me. Isn't your wife my sister?

Your sister? Of course she is!

Don't you share power with her?

Of course I do.

And with me, too.

What do I lack? No, no.

No. I've no desire to be the sovereign.

I'm content to live like a
sovereign. It is much wiser.

I have what I want without
effort or worries of any kind.

But if I were king,

how many trials I'd have!

Too much anxiety and responsibility!

No, madness and evil are one.

I am not mad to want a better
state than the one I live in.

Go to Apollo's shrine and
make sure of the Oracle,

see if I invented it
in league with Tiresias.

If I did, condemn me rightly.

And your sentence will
be death, not exile!


This problem comes from the
heart, for valid reasons.

You can't accept your victory.

- That's not true.
- You're lying!

If you don't want to understand...

In that case, go.

It's not for him, but
for you that I'll do it.

This way I also condemn myself.

You give in, but with rancour. Why?

Go! Go!

Go! What are you waiting for?


Why you and Creon?

Because your brother
accuses me of Laius' murder.

Did he make this charge on
his own or was he prompted?

No, he brought me Tiresias.
Tiresias accuses me.

He is innocent.

If that?s what you want
to tell me, be calm.

No man can be a prophet.

Listen and tell me if I'm wrong.

Once a prophecy came to
my husband, King Laius.

It said that one day he
would be murdered by a son

that I gave to him.

But he was killed by a gang
of bandits at a crossroads.

I must tell you...

...that Laius had had
the child, our son, taken,

and had his feet tied up.

Then he had him thrown off
a mountain where he died.

Judge, then, if prophecies
predict the future.

Don't worry, believe me.

God reveals to us his intentions

without ambiguity or intermediaries.

If you knew how much those
words of yours scare me!

What do you fear?

Laius was killed at a crossroads.

Yes, so they said.

Where is it?

On the road between
Apollo's shrine and here.

How long ago?

The news of his murder
reached us shortly before...

...your arrival in Thebes.

God, what do you want to do with me!

I don't understand why you're
so interested in these things.

Ask me nothing.

What did Laius look like? How old?

Tall, with a big, long beard.

He resembled you.

Then maybe I was cursing myself before.

Why does it frighten you so
to be your mother's lover? Why?

Many men dream of that.

Maybe they live in fear?

The truth must be sought.

And I fear Tiresias sees into the truth.

But was he travelling alone,

your husband Laius,
or with a great escort?

He was with five men,

four soldiers and a servant, on a cart.

And who said that?

The servant who escaped.

- Is he still here, this servant?
- No.

When he returned and
saw you in Laius' place,

he begged me to send him with our flock

as far from Thebes as possible.

I granted his wish. That
faithful servant deserved it.

Why do you ask me of him?

Ask me no questions, I've said too much.

I fear I've said even this unwillingly.


My father is Polybus, King of Corinth!

My mother is Merope!

But a boy I offended
once called me false son!

I couldn't be silent.

I questioned my parents.

And they ridiculed the
person that insulted me.

And I knew they were telling the truth.

But the doubt remained,
I couldn't dispel it.

Then I went to the shrine of Apollo...

...but the god not only
did not answer my questions,

he actually revealed other
frightful things to me.

It was destined that I would
make love with my mother...

Shut up! No.

And that I would beget
monstrous children!

It was destined, too, that
I should murder my father.

After such prophecies,

with what heart could I
return home, to my parents...

- I don't want to hear you!
- ...in Corinth.

I will not, will not hear!

We must talk!

Poor Oedipus!

May you never know who you are!

Then I went off from Corinth, at random.

I met a man at a crossroads.

He was on a cart with
four guards and a servant.

A quarrel sprang up and
I killed the guards...

- What's the use of talking?
- ...and the man who had insulted me...

...who insulted me with his arrogance,

his wish to master me, his authority.

If there were some kinship
between that man and Laius,

then I...


I'll go pray.

I'll go pray to the
gods in their temples.

Oedipus has a heart
swollen with too much agony.

He doesn't explain the new with
the old according to reason...

...but believing whatever is said,
provided that it brings anguish.

I'll go to pray for us

because we're all terrified
seeing this good helmsman of ours

mad with terror.

I've come to your town to
speak with Oedipus, the king.

I am his wife.

What do you want? Speak about what?

Good news for your house.

What? From whom?

From Corinth.

I have news that will give you
joy and perhaps also sorrow.


In Corinth,

the inhabitants mean to
elect Oedipus their king.

Isn't his father, old
Polybus, King of Corinth?

He was.

He died and was taken to his tomb.

- Is this the man you spoke about?
- Yes.

It's your turn, old man.
Look at me and answer.

- Were you Laius' servant?
- Yes.

- What were you?
- Shepherd.

Where did you graze?

On Cithaeron, or thereabouts.

- Have you ever met this man?
- What do you mean?

This man, do you know him?

I'm trying to remember him.

But I've never seen him... ever.

That's natural.

It was long ago.

But together,

we spent three seasons, three seasons!

That may be true, but it
was years and years ago.

I found a baby on the
mountain, and you were there.

What? Why do you ask me?

Oedipus, your king, is
the baby of that day.

Stop it. That's nonsense!

Not his words, but yours are nonsense!

Be careful what you do!

What, O King, do you reproach me for?

For your silence!

For not speaking of the
baby you're asked about!

I know nothing. What
would you want me to say?

You'll be forced to speak. Watch out!

I'm an old man. A poor old man.

Take him! Tie him up!
Put an end to this!

But what? What do you want to know?

So, did you take this baby
to the mountain or not?

I did.

I wish I had died on that day.

And who gave him to you?

Was he your son or not?

He wasn't mine, he was
given to me by others.

- Others.
- Who were these others?

- In the name of God, don't ask me!
- Speak, or you're done for!

He was Laius'.

His slave or his son?

This is a thing that cannot be said.

And I can't listen to it.

But I must.

It was his son.

But nobody better than
Jocasta, your wife, knows it.

- Did she give you the baby?
- Yes, she gave him to me.

With what orders?

To kill him.

Why this atrocity?

Because she feared bad prophecies.

Which ones?

That he would kill his parents.

Why did you allow him to be saved?

Out of pity.

All is clear now, and wanted,

not imposed by destiny.

Thus I will no longer see the
evil I have suffered and committed.

In the dark I will not see
what should not be seen.

I will not recognise those
I wanted to recognise.

I should have also severed my ears

to seal myself up in my unhappy body.

To see and hear nothing ever again.

It's sweet to have the mind rid of evil.

Quick, send me away.

Send this terrible man far away.

Impure things must be kept silent.

Not spoken of, not witnessed. Silent!

Hide me, take me outside
this land of ours!

Take me to someplace where
I cannot be seen anymore.


Angelo. Angelo!

Where are we?

In a place with many trees in a row

and many little streams
and a green, green field.

May the light that I
couldn't see anymore,

and which once was mine,

illuminate me now for the last time.

I have arrived.

Life ends where it begins.