The Nine Muses

Director: John Akomfrah
Screenwriters: John Akomfrah

Institute History

  • 2011 Sundance Film Festival


Twenty-five years after the Trojan War, Odysseus has not returned home. His son, Telemachus, sets off on an arduous journey to search for his lost father. So begins Homer's revered epic poem, The Odyssey, the narrative reference point for John Akomfrah’s breathtakingly cinematic documentary essay, The Nine Muses, a poetic and idiosyncratic retelling of the history of mass migration to postwar Britain through the suggestive lens of Homer’s epic.
Structured as an allegorical fable, and loosely inspired by existential science fiction, The Nine Muses is divided into nine overlapping musical chapters and sets a vast array of archival material to a script constructed from the writings of authors ranging from Dante, Samuel Beckett, Emily Dickinson, and James Joyce to John Milton, Sophocles, and Dylan Thomas. Akomfrah masterfully crafts this symphony of material into a coherent, highly original, and absorbing meditation on a journey toward self-discovery and a sorrowful song about searching for knowledge and identity.

— Shari Frilot

Screening Details

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