Hercules, mythical hero in the hands of Walt Disney studios: defeat or victory ? Ulysses, Homer, Achilles, Paris, Hector and of course, Heracles (Hercules): all those great mythical heroes have gone down in history for their great feats and acts of bravery, but also for their not so commendable acts of treachery and ignominious foxiness! The Iliad and the Odyssey, then the later works of Sophocles and ulterior writers have bequeathed us whole anthologies, filled with tales of memorable times. But we should already point out, as observers are wont to say, that historians somehow make history: what they say, what they comment, and what they write about an event, whether it be true to nature or fantasized, usually becomes fact. In this respect, what we have received as “the true history” of Heracles, a.k.a. Hercules, is largely the product of vivid imagination. As a consequence, when the Disney Studios take Hercules’ story and distort it quite a bit, or misrepresent it from a historical standpoint, they are not perverting it! Quite the contrary I think! It’s true Hercules wasn’t born from Zeus and Hera, but he was born out of wedlock from unfaithful Zeus and a mortal woman, Alcmene. His sworn enemy was not Hades, king of the Underworld, but his very step-mother, Hera! In actual history, he was born a mortal demi-God, whereas Disney “ungodded” him, or made him a mortal after he drank the poison administered by Hades’ minions. Thankfully, he “did not drink the last drop!” In the animation movie, his rise to stardom after he completes his 12 labours looks like a piece of cake, an easy actuation after he has received Philoctetes’ training. Here is thus a Greek Rocky Balboa, “going the distance” and completing his 12 rounds thanks to Mickey, his coach. Sadly, Philoctetes never trained Heracles! He barely met him towards the very end of his life, was witness to Heracles’ immolation and subsequent death, then retrieved his bow and arrows, which would eventually allow for the Greek victory against Troy. But what do we care about historical semblance and chronology? What’s the matter with anachronisms? (“That’s the Gospel truth”) What does it matter that Achilles’ defeat, because of his weak ankle’s sinew, occurred AFTER Hercules’ time? Is it really that bad that Disney completely rewrites Hercules killing his first wife, Megara, and their kids, only to seek absolution through his 12 labours, then to remarry with his second wife, Dejanira, who will ultimately cause his death out of mistaken jealousy? Well, I think not. Disney has served us with 1h30 of pleasurable cinema; we get carried away by the funny and high-paced music; we enjoy putting ourselves in Heracles’ “AIR HERC” shoes, we identify with his universal quest for belonging. Most of all, because we love being sentimental, our heart races when we fear for Hercules and Megara’s prevaricated love story, and feel content when “all is well that ends well” (another anachronism, thank our lucky William Shakespeare!) Yes indeed, the fearless, proud and strong Hercules / Walt Disney has painted us a true masterpiece, a work of art... and of heart!