Classical monsters that inspire Hollywood in Rome show

Friday, December 20th, 2013. Filed under: Art Destinations Entertainment Film
This picture taken on December 19, 2013 shows sculptures during a press review of the exhibition "Mostri, Creature fantastiche della paura e del mito" (Monsters. Fantastic creatures of the fear and the myth) at the Museo Nazionale Romano in the Palazzo Massimo in Rome. ©AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS

This picture taken on December 19, 2013 shows sculptures during a press review of the exhibition “Mostri, Creature fantastiche della paura e del mito” (Monsters. Fantastic creatures of the fear and the myth) at the Museo Nazionale Romano in the Palazzo Massimo in Rome.
©AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS

(ROME-AFP) – Griffins, sirens and minotaurs went on display in Rome on Thursday for an exhibition on monsters of antiquity with Hollywood special effects experts still inspired by the classical creatures acting as consultants.

The show brought together 100 works including statues, frescoes and vases from museums around the world depicting fantastical creatures — all in a web of passages intended to resemble the minotaur’s labyrinth.

“Monsters are part of the myths of every culture, every civilisation,” said Elisabetta Setari, co-curator of the exhibition with Rita Paris, director of the National Roman Museum which is hosting the show.

“They have characterised our civilisation from the dawn of time until now,” said Setari, explaining that the images of monsters are still widely used today like the medusa in luxury fashion house Versace’s symbol.

The exhibits range from the Bronze Age to ancient Rome with sphinxes, gorgons, centaurs, sea dragons, hydras and a bronze chimera from the 6th century BC used on a Greek soldier’s shield.

The works are on loan from 40 museums in Italy and internationally, including the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the United States.

There is a fine Greek vase with a multi-headed hydra from the 6th century BC from an Italian collection, as well as two 17th-century paintings — one with a medusa and the other with the flying horse Pegasus — to show the endurance of monstrous images through the centuries.

“Monsters are aggressive creatures. They are part animal so they have an animalistic force. Monsters in antiquity were above all protectors, for example of tombs where they appear on gravestones,” she said.

Hollywood heavyweights have been involved in the exhibition, which is being accompanied by a series of lectures on the influence of classical mythology on hi-tech special effects and fantasy films today.

“If we look at Hollywood and the monsters that have inspired us we can trace them all back to classical monsters,” said Scott Ross, a former business partner of George Lucas and James Cameron, who has worked on blockbusters like “Terminator 2″ and “Titanic”.

“It’s sort of like the concept of music where there are only 12 notes, it’s how you combine them together that makes a symphony,” said Ross, speaking next to a fresco of griffins in one the exhibition’s dark passageways.

Out of all the movies he has worked on, Ross said some of the ones with the most monstrous content have been “Indiana Jones” and “Star Wars” but most of all “Terminator 2″ which he called “a post-human vision”.

“Sea dragons used to warn sailors about the dangers of the sea. Monsters today are like robots. They are warning us about post-human humans,” he said.

Ross said the representation of monsters in films had transformed since the first “Frankenstein” by Edison Studios in 1910 when only make-up was used for effects.

“Nowadays it’s computer-generated imagery to the point that you can create anything,” he said, although he added that modern monsters were still “very simple”.

Another consultant on the exhibition is Shane Mahan, co-founder of “Legacy Effects” — a special effects company that has worked on “Avatar” and “Iron Man” who also said he was inspired by ancient monsters.

“Monsters have remained with us in fairy tales but also in cinema,” said Paris, co-curator of the show, explaining they came from the battle between Zeus and Typhon — the most deadly monster of Greek mythology.

“If Typhon had won, chaos would have reigned,” she said.

Share Button

Related posts

Disney eyes bigger plans with ShanghaiAtlanta to be home of new fashion museum opening in OctoberWashington museums get $2 billion ‘revitalization’ planFilm sparks Paddington Bear revival in LondonMysterious prehistoric reptiles fly into NYArt agenda: Italian fashion, Pilgrim/Roy quilts, Wang GongxinCopenhagen’s Little Mermaid turns 100: a guide to festivitiesNew Yorkers to sample French rides, amusements of oldNew York readies major Le Corbusier showPunk gets pretty in Met museum exhibitNew York’s Metropolitan Museum to open 7/7National Pinball Museum hits ’tilt’South by South Lawn, a new event for innovators, hosted at the White HouseEuro 2016 host cities: things to see and do in Bordeaux‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’ theme park announces opening dateWorld’s top nature photos to be projected onto St Peter’sThe Met’s new Breuer building to host TEDxMet conferenceGrevin’s first Asian museum waxes lyrical over K-popAsia’s shifting social landscape the focus of fifth Asian Art Biennial105 years of automotive history on display at the new Alfa Romeo museum