Classical myths and legendary journeys: Hercules, landscape, identity and New Zealand

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    In 1994, five made for television movies – Hercules and the Amazon Women by Bill L. Norton, Hercules and the Lost Kingdom by Harley Cokeliss, Hercules and the Circle of Fire by Doug Lefler, Hercules in the Underworld by Bill L. Norton and Hercules in the Maze of the Minotaur by Josh Becker – became the forerunners of two popular, even cult, series screened from the mid-1990s: Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (Various, 1995–1999) and its spin-off Xena: Warrior Princess (Various, 1995–2001). Despite being set in a mythical Ancient Greece, the movies and the subsequent programmes were filmed on location in New Zealand. Indeed, New Zealand has become a frequent site for fantasy cinema and television production, perhaps most notably through the work of Peter Jackson, and Film New Zealand have actively promoted the country’s potential to be ‘many worlds’. The varied and dramatic topography has played a significant role in encouraging filmmakers to base their productions in the country, but New Zealand’s own mythology as a land of Edenic, untouched beauty and its relative ‘youth’ are also integral to understanding its appeal. This article, which primarily focuses on the five Hercules films, will explore the unique relationship and the dynamic interaction between the classical/fantasy narrative and New Zealand.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)351-362
    JournalThe Australasian Journal of Popular Culture
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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