Movies: Elektra

Since I enjoyed the Hulk movie we watched recently, my husband has been urging me to watch Elektra. It is also based on a comic book character, and it also is more about character development than big action scenes. I had never even heard of the character Elektra, let alone read any of the comic books. That probably didn’t hurt my appreciation of the movie any, and possibly helped as I wasn’t comparing the movie to the comic book series.

I did enjoy it, and I thought, for the most part, that the movie was well done, especially visually. There is an artistry to certain scenes – particularly the ones involving the character Tattoo (whose tattoos come to life and emerge from his body as three dimensional animals), and the fight scene near the end when sheets (which had been covering long-unused furniture) fly all over the place.

The flashback scenes are no doubt well done also, but I found it somewhat frustrating that the flashbacks tell so little. Elektra herself apparently does not remember the scenes clearly – no doubt having repressed such painful memories – so it makes sense that the viewer can see no more than she can. But as that is the sole way we learn anything of her past, there are a great many unanswered questions.

I don’t expect a movie to answer every question. Real life is full of unanswered questions and untidy loose ends. But movies that center around character development generally do a bit more to explain the character’s past, whether by showing events as they actually happened or in the words of someone recounting those events. The viewer never learns why Elektra’s mother was killed, or why her father treated her as he did.

Nor is the time frame at all clear. She received martial arts training, and she later became a paid assassin. But there is little indication of how long she has been an assassin, though it seems that she has acquired quite a reputation. One can guess, from the flashbacks, what forces worked in her to choose that way of making a living. But living as an assassin would also have continued to change her, and unless she has been doing this for only a short time, I find the transformation that takes place in a short time in the movie somewhat hard to believe.

After the movie my husband told me a little about the comic books, and mentioned also the character Electra from Greek mythology. I was somewhat surprised, as I read everything I could find on Greek mythology in the children’s section of the library in my hometown, and I didn’t remember even the name Electra. She is the subject of some well-known tragedies such as one by Sophocles, and while I recognize the names of her parents (Agamemnon and Clytemnestra) and her brother Orestes, and the rather sordid story that surrounds them all, I still remember nothing of Electra’s role in the story.

Movies often motivate me to read the story on which the movie was based, even if the movie departs in large ways from the original. (Generally, I figure, the original was probably better.) But I have always hated the stories surrounding Agamemnon, and I’m not inclined to go back and reread any of them.

One Response to Movies: Elektra

  1. Karen O says:

    I tend to do the same. And an historical fiction, book or movie, will prompt me to look up more info on the part of history it dealt with.

    Chrissy & I saw Elektra on tv several months ago. I agree with your assessment of it. It was intriguing but unsatisfying.

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