Is it a movie podcast? Is it a history podcast? Is it an unholy union of the two? Short answer: yes!
Each episode, hosts Colin MacCormack and Elijah Fleming break down a new movie about Greece, Rome or the wider ancient world and what works (or doesn’t work) about them. But this isn’t a podcast for nitpicking historical inaccuracies. Rather, it’s a chance to get hot takes on Hollywood films from two professional nerds/academics and take a closer look at the relation between our movies and our past.
Episode 26 – Blood of Zeus (2020) Part II, with Christie Vogler & Zoé Thomas
Gigantomachy II: Electric Boogaloo! Our longest episode to date, we really don't lack for things to talk about. There's a a lot to love in this show and some to look critically at but we really only have one question: who are those people in the bed with Apollo? We get into a lot, such as Zeus as a father, whether the Fates' baby on the table makes any sense, how Heron should dress and which was our favorite giant. Plus, a loooong discussion about sexy lamps and winged phalloi! Stay till the end for the gag reel. Enjoy!
Episode 25 – Blood of Zeus (2020) Part I, with Christie Vogler & Zoé Thomas
"Screw your winged horse, I want a Manticore!" We break down the first four episodes of Netflix's original anime series with repeat guest Christie Vogler and newcomer Zoé Thomas. We dig into the show's pop cultural influences, its novel takes on mythology and the design choice to make everyone super hot. We also talk at length about Hera's anger, Zeus' faults and convenient vases depicting exactly the myth you need to tell. The mention of unmixed wine also really shakes our kraters. Additional questions: Would a similar show set in Rome with as much attention to artistic style feature too many ugly sculpture? How many brains does a three headed dog need? Should we all just play kottabos when we party? We also introduce new literary lens where all stories are actually about Alexander the Great.
Episode 24 – Troy: Fall of a City (2018), Part III, with Ava-Elana Tolley-Enstrom
“A man who thinks that he has been done wrong is a mad, mad man.” (the Iliad, abridged). Get these and other hot takes as we finish off our miniseries on this miniseries the only way we know how: by climbing into a big wooden horse and hoping for the best. Joined by another wonderful UT undergraduate, we break down the final episodes of Netflix’s historical action-adventure romance drama. We dwell on the rage of Achilles and his susceptibility to very obvious schemes. We pick apart the denouement of Helen and Xanthias the spy, in all its contrivances. We lament the short-lived presence of the Amazons. Plus, we start asking the big questions. Should Odysseus be empathetic or cruel or somewhere in between? Is Aeneas not bland enough? Does Priam dye his mustache? Count how many times we say “the Iliad” when we actually mean some other text. When you’re in the moment, they’re all the Iliad!
Episode 23 – Troy: Fall of a City (2018), Part II, with Lucile Chambon, Jordan Engstrom and Mitchell Jackson
Joined by three fantastic first year students from UT Austin, we continue our discussion of Netflix's miniseries as we get into episodes 4-6. We discuss how this show has updated the tale for this generation of viewers and how it compares to the 2004's Troy. What characters work and don't work for us? Do we want a good or a bad Hector? Are the gods necessary or superfluous? Is what this show needs just more blood? Also witness the exact moment when Colin realizes Aeneas was Dean Thomas in HP. Answers to these and many more await, along with repeated plugs for Shadow & Bone.
Episode 22 – Troy: Fall of a City (2018), Part I, with Adam Rabinowitz
We launch the first of a special, three part miniseries on the Netflix/BBC original on the Trojan War. Joining us is UT Classics professor and archaeologist Dr. Adam Rabinowitz who is currently teaching a class on the stories of the Trojan War. We talk about our initial reactions to episodes 1-3, as well as more broadly on the show's place in the modern TV landscape. Is this series actually about family more than love or war? Is there much more to Helen's character than we might detect on first viewing? Why is an extra hammering bronze? What's with the ostrich?
You can find Adam online as well as through his work with the following projects:
Planet Texas 2050 - a research initiative dedicated to sustaining Texas' critical resourcesLearning from Histria - Adam's archaeological work on settlements in the Black Sea, which you can also read about here and hereYou can also hear Adam speak about his work in Romania on the Slavic Connexion
Episode 21 – The Eagle (2011)
Get your checkbooks ready Hollywood producers because we basically re-pitch a new, better version of this now 10 year old film. On top of that, we dig up the literary and historic source material inspiring the plot, along with the larger ideas and implications tie to its Heart-of-Darkness-esc depiction of Hadrian's Wall, Northern Britain and Roman imperialism. Overall, we found more to chew over than we first thought. Much of that being the thought process behind casting its lead. It comes so close to an interesting and complex depiction of the Roman but trips up at the very end. More importantly, is there an intertextual relation between Esca and Jar-Jar Binks?
Witty and Insightful
A must for nerds of film and/or ancient history
Unholy Union of History and Films is Wholly Wholesome
Colin and Eli bring fresh ideas, humor, and insight to the films and shows which use the ancient Mediterranean in various and sundry ways. Without completely bashing the films, and doing their best to appreciate them as artistic and/or entertainment media in their own right, they do a great job of pointing out some of the more funny and weird changes made to ancient history in the course of these films. I really like listening to their expertis, and 10/10 recommend!!!!