Ancient Telling, Contemporary Showing: A Reading of The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) As Film Adaptation




Film Adaptation, Hypertextuality, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Linda Hutcheon, Iphigenia at Aulis, Gerard Genette


This article aims to investigate the contemporary aspects of adaptation from ancient plays, presenting a reading of The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017). A comparative view towards Iphigenia at Aulis by Euripides (405 BC) raises the question of how story elements of that play are recreated within the film adaptation. Also, it seeks to explore the relationship between the type of engagement, from hypotext (play) “telling” to hypertext (film) “showing”. The theoretical framework of the article utilized theories of Gerard Genette’s “hypertextuality” and Linda Hutcheon’s “adaptation”. The results indicate subtle thematic connections, as well as a significant interplay between hypotext and hypertext. The Killing of a Sacred Deer represents an adaptation with a creative interpretation, one which reimagines the forms and themes of ancient tragedy in a modern-life context. Various influences, imitations and transformations of Euripides’ story elements are interwoven in the adaptation process and discussed in the article.

Author Biographies

Poya Raissi, Independent Scholar of Cinematic & Dramatic Arts.

Poya Raissi (1992, male) is currently an independent scholar. He holds an M.A. in Television Production-Drama subdiscipline from Iran Broadcasting University and B.A. in Theatre-Dramatic Literature from Azad University Central Tehran Branch. His research interests include place and space, world cinema and television, adaptation theory, storytelling, and interdisciplinary studies of cinematic and dramatic arts. As yet, some of his articles have been published in academic and peer-reviewed journals. Ajax is the name of his last short film which is produced in 2019.

Morteza Ghaffari, Ph.D. Candidate in Theatre, Department of Performing Arts, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran.

Morteza Ghaffari (1986, male) is a Ph.D. candidate in Theatre, Department of Performing Arts, College of Fine Arts, University of Tehran. Asian Theatre is a specialized field of Morteza's work, and currently, he is an adjunct lecturer on this course at Tehran University. The connection between theory and practice in dramatic arts is one of his main concerns, and he has directed several plays in a variety of theatrical styles. Morteza has also written several screenplays and is involved in the subject of adaptation and is researching it.


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How to Cite

Raissi, P., & Ghaffari, M. (2023). Ancient Telling, Contemporary Showing: A Reading of The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) As Film Adaptation. CINEJ Cinema Journal, 11(1), 216–239.