The Nine Muses PDF Print E-mail

Directed by John Akomfrah


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Berlinale 2011:

Tuesday February 15th, 9:30am at the Marriott 1.

Sundance Film Festival 2011:

See Sundance website for screening times.


Twenty-five years after the end of the Trojan War, Odysseus still has not returned home. So his son, Telemachus sets off an epic journey in search of his lost father. So begins Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey - the most revered of ancient epic poems and narrative reference point for John Akomfrah’s unusual and genre defying story about chance, fate and redemption.

Structured as an allegorical fable and loosely inspired by existential science fiction, The Nine Muses is a stylized, unusual and idiosyncratic retelling of the history of mass migration to post war Britain through the suggestive lens of the Homeric epic.

Divided into nine overlapping musical chapters and mixing a vast array of archival material with shot scenes from the United States and the United Kingdom, The Nine Muses is a modern recasting of Homer’s epic as a ‘song cycle’ on journeys, on migration, on memory and the power of elegy. Devised and scripted from the writings of an array of authors including Dante Alighieri, Samuel Beckett, Emily Dickinson, James Joyce, John Milton, Friedrich Nietzsche, William Shakespeare, Sophocles and Dylan Thomas, The Nine Muses is a set of imaginary journeys through myth, folklore, history and a museum of intangible things.

Set between 1949 and 1970 and seamlessly weaving together multiple “sayings” from an equally diverse range of writers including Matsuo Basho, TS Elliot, Li Po and Rabindranth Tagore, The Nine Muses unfolds as a coherent and utterly absorbing meditation on a journey towards self-discovery, a ‘sorrow song’ on a quest for knowledge and identity.

Deploying the ‘voices’ of a remarkable range of period and contemporary actors including John Barrymore, Richard Burton, Dermot Crowley, Teresa Gallagher, Anton Lesser, Michael Sheen Josette Simon and Heathcote Williams. With a dizzying range of performances from Paul Robeson , Leontyne Price and India’s Gundecha Brothers . With a soundtrack that comprises a range of music from Estonian composer Arvo Part to Richard Wagner, from Mozart’s solo piano works to the Schubert’s stunning Wintereisse, The Nine Muses is a feast for the eyes as well as the brain, the ears as well as the heart.