Film studies provides the ideal field for further reflection on the issue of Greek culture. It involves the translation of Greek material into a new medium, as well as a new language, a medium furthermore that is characteristically modern. This article points out that this is the medium through which many moderns have their first or only self-aware encounter with ancient Greece. The stories of the Greek world have functioned as meta-narratives or metaphors for cinematic plots: from road movies to science-fiction films and westerns, cinema has persistently explored the themes of the journey, of homecoming, and of identity, whose archetypal force has come to be associated with Homer and Greek tragedy. Moreover, film theory has drawn on Greek philosophy, especially on theories of representation and perception, to articulate and debate phenomenological, cognitive, and narratological approaches to cinema.
Tragedy has inspired such feverish activity over the past half-century, both in scholarship and in the theatre, that it is hard to sketch the main lines of past explorations, let alone indicate how they may develop and ramify in the future. This article attempts to do just that. It presents an overview of approaches to tragedy in the recent past, and some divinations about areas of study that may reward interest in the future. Presently, in Greek tragic studies, the solidity of material culture provides a counterbalance to relentless object-lessons in the instability of knowledge. As such, a new emphasis on the changing functions and manifestations of theatre is turning the continual changes in cultural emphasis over time into a positive heuristic resource.