The Penelopiad, the film

What stood out to me the most in The Penelopiad is the artistic, visual and lyrical way it is written. I think it would be amazing to make a movie-adaptation of this novel. While I was reading, I was really reminded of the movie director Baz Lurhmann, in particular his movie Romeo+Juliet (1996). His very unique, eclectic, funky, and modern retelling of the famous play by Shakespeare is similar to the way Margaret Atwood retells the story of the Odyssey. They both have vibrant imagery, interesting music, a modern setting and eccentric characters. 

Both The Penelopiad and Romeo+Juliet are set in modern time yet they still rely heavily on the respective texts they originate from. Atwood’s characterization of a modern-day Penelope is credible, relatable and human. Even though it is the 21st century, the story retains the original emotional force of the myth, which would make for a great movie plot. The Penelopiad also has a big musical component, with chorus lines, rhymes, tunes, sea shanties and more, like there is in all of Baz Lurhmann’s movies. 

The novel’s linear storyline also works perfectly for a film, yet in particular there is a lot of striking imagery and scenes that give it a very theatrical feel. For instance, the scenes involving water (story of Penelope’s mother), and the dreams, like the maid’s ballad of the golden boats, are all very ethereal and dramatic, which would be really interesting to translate into film. 

The 12 characters of the maids I find especially intriguing and really want to know what their singing would sound like. Is it like the song “Lovely Ladies” in Les Misérables sung by the women from the brothel or more like the sirens from the Odyssey? 

Regardless, I think Atwood does a fantastic job at giving the maids flair and personality of their own. They are certainly not always loud or flamboyant, but in their own subtle and silent way they express a lot of unsaid things. For example in the chorus line “A Wily Sea Captain” it seems like a very classical, traditional song in praise of their master, yet in reality, it is full of insults and sarcastic comments mocking Odysseus. 

To me, the maids are powerful forces not to be reckoned with in The Penelopiad. They do as they wish, recklessly and spontaneously, like suddenly breaking into song, simulating tv courts, or putting on dramas impersonating their queen. Their creativity and boldness would be fascinating captured as characters of a film. What do you think the maids would look, sound and act like if they were in a film adaptation?

About Me

My name is Ana Maria Fernandez and I am a first year student at UBC in the Faculty of Arts. I was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico and I recently moved to Victoria, B.C. in 2011. I enjoy reading, drawing, painting, and want to be an Architect.

My interest in history and English is what mainly drew me to Arts One, but also the format of the course, the focus on writing, the professors, and the small knit community. I really like how you get to study each text from different perspectives and engage with them through the essays.

I chose Group B because Repetition Compulsion seems to go beyond English, history and philosophy, and I also feel a little more familiar with the book list, especially with Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now (my favourite movie), The Odyssey, The Tempest, and the Lyrical Ballads. The rest of the texts I am not familiar with but I like the existentialist theme going on and a lot of the authors (Nietzsche, Rousseau, Hobbes, Freud) are people I have always studied in history class but never actually read their works. I am also excited for the contemporary authors like Margaret Atwood and Ian Hacking.

I hope I get to learn a lot and come out of this program with new ideas.


Spam prevention powered by Akismet