Each month we will show you a document from our historical archive, an opportunity to discover evidence which is usually not on display to the public.
If you are movie buffs or art lovers, you can’t have failed to notice the presence of the temples of Paestum in various films.
Not even Hollywood could resist the beauty of Paestum, and numerous directors have used our archaeological park for film sets.
The list of films ranges from the era of silent cinema to the latest sci-fi movies. They also include action films and Italian comedies.
Are you curious to learn the names of the films concerned?
Here is a selection of some of the most famous movies:
Mare nostrum – 1926
A silent film set during the First World War, focusing on the history of a sailor on a Spanish merchant vessel involved in a story of espionage.
Sissi – 1958
The beautiful Princess Elizabeth, nicknamed “Sissi”, played by Romy Schneider, walks spellbound amongst the temples of Paestum. It is a shame that the actors never once mention the archaeological site of Paestum and pretend to be in Greece.
Jason and the Argonauts – 1963
In “Jason and the Argonauts”, directed by Don Chaffey, Paestum was once again chosen as the set of a mythological fantasy film where the temples became the scenario of fights between fantastic blue mythological creatures and the courageous Jason.
Goodbye Mr. Chips – 1969
A remake of a film from 1939 in the form of a musical, based on the novel of the same name by James Hilton. Arthur Chipping and his wife Katherine have an interesting conversation in the temple of Neptune.
Scipio the African – 1970
A historical film in which Marcello Mastroianni plays Publius Cornelius Scipio known as the African. The cast also features actors of the calibre of Vittorio Gassman and Silvana Mangano directed by Luigi Magni. There are famous photos of these great actors sitting in the shade of the temples during a pause between scenes.
Street People (also known as The Executors) – 1976
Not just the setting for mythological stories but also the setting for action movies! Paestum made a comeback with the director Maurizio Lucidi who directed several scenes far removed from the realm of myth, enlivened by the exchange of gunfire, where the main character is played by the handsome star Roger Moore who plays Ulysses, the nephew of a mafia boss.
Clash of the Titans – 1981
The film included several outdoor scenes shot in the archaeological plain of Paestum. The cast included Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress, Laurence Olivier and Henry Hamlin. The temples provide the setting for a clash between Perseus and a monstrous two-headed dog in Medusa’s lair.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians – 2013
La fortunata saga fantasy racconta le avventure di Perseus Jackson. The popular fantasy saga tells the adventures of Perseus Jackson. The main character, known as Percy by his friends, is played by Logan Lerman. Percy discovers he is a demigod, the son of a mortal woman and an Olympian god: Poseidon. For the launch of the sequel “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters” in 2013, Poseidonia, the city dedicated to the god of the sea, was chosen; the main character conducts a long interview inside the majestic Temple of Neptune.
Bread and Tulips – 2000
Bread and Tulips (Pane e tulipani) is the fourth feature film by the director Silvio Soldini and is probably his most famous movie, given its international success with both the public and critics and the numerous awards it has received. In the film, a group of tourists enters the Temple of Athena, led by an actual tour guide of Paestum.
However, the cinematographic adventure of Paestum is set to continue: the ancient site of Poseidonia will come back to Italian and international screens with the film “Last Words” set in a Paestum of the future, with the main character played by Nick Nolte and directed by Jonathan Nossiter.
A winning combination of art and cinema.
Do you know any other films which feature Paestum?
Please let us know!